Sir — The verdict of a division bench of the Calcutta High Court on the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, declaring it as “unconstitutional and invalid”, was inevitable (“2-month stay on order, govt mulls SC appeal”, June 23). It is evident that certain government officials do not follow their leader, Mamata Banerjee. Had the officials concerned been responsible enough, they would have ironed out the flaws in the legislation or arranged to secure presidential assent on it. The declaration of the high court has spelt despair and anxiety for the unwilling farmers who are too helpless to carry out a serious protest. Although they are willing to fight for their cause, one can foresee their defeat if the Supreme Court turns down the government’s appeal. Ever since the Left Front government leased the land to the Tatas, there has been continuous conflict over the issue. Sadly, farmers have become the victims. If the state government wants to protect the farmers from the looming crisis, it should act carefully.
Sahana Mukherjee, Calcutta
Sir — The Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, framed by the Mamata Banerjee government to free the land leased to Tata Motors, suffered a blow when a division bench of the Calcutta High Court declared it “invalid”. After assuming the office of the chief minister, one of Banerjee’s priorities was returning 400 acres of land to Singur’s farmers. With this objective in view, a faulty law was framed in haste. Following the high court verdict, the government is considering an appeal to the apex court. The fight against land acquisition in Singur and Nandigram helped Banerjee achieve political glory. Therefore, she is morally bound to fulfil her promise of returning 400 acres to the farmers. The land has been abandoned and has yielded no returns to those dependent on it for their livelihood. Banerjee should remember that the people of Bengal voted her to power in the hope of economic resurgence with all round development of the state. One is shocked to see the misery of the unwilling farmers dependent on the meagre government dole of Rs 1,000 and rice at Rs 2 per kg, which comes from the taxpayers’ money, and not from the Trinamul Congress party fund.
Instead of lengthy litigations, an out-of-court settlement with the Tatas would be a speedy solution. The flight of the Nano project — believed to be a catalyst for the state’s industrial resurgence — had battered the image of Bengal. If the battle is now dragged to the apex court, it will not brighten the prospect of industrialization and will send the wrong message to industrialists. Routine meetings with industrialists will not do the trick alone. Their confidence in the state needs to be restored. Banerjee is not ready to shed her authoritarian image so that Bengal can overcome its economic stagnation. The government should play a proactive role in facilitating the acquisition of large plots of land from fragmented holdings to move forward.
Subhankar Mukherjee, Borehat, Burdwan
Sir — The high court has passed its judgment on the Singur controversy. But the issue of settlement for farmers will be a lengthy procedure. The government may move the Supreme Court and the farmers’ fate will remain undecided till that verdict. There is also no guarantee that the verdict will be in favour of the government. It is high time that the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, attempts an out-of-court settlement with the Tatas. This will promote industry and generate employment. Banerjee’s popularity will increase, as the people will have more faith in her.
Keshab Kumar Chowdhury, Calcutta
Sir — The immature handling of the Singur issue exposed the fact that Mamata Banerjee and her colleagues have not been able to adapt to being in power. It was advisable not to have a confrontational attitude but to come to a negotiated settlement. Probably even the TMC knows that losing the Nano project was a big blow to the state’s industrial scene. Consequently, industrialists now think twice before they invest in the state. The situation is not conducive to industrial development. There is still time and the state government should talk to the Tatas to avert the depressing future looming on Singur’s farmers and the state.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — The debate over which of the two dominant dispensations in the state is in the right with respect to Singur matters little to the unfortunate farmers who surrendered their lands to the Tatas. They do not know the land laws and their relevant amendments. The only thing they know is their choice of livelihood, which has been disturbed in the name of politics. The fate of these farmers is uncertain and the high court judgment will do little to change their lives.
Manas Mukhopadhyay, Chinsurah, Hooghly