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Job cry for Nandi rail land

Tamluk, Feb. 7: Over 2,000 Nandigram villagers who had given land for a railway line announced by Mamata Banerjee when she was railway minister today organised a rally demanding government jobs or the return of their plots.

The villagers of Nandigram, Reyapara, Chandipur and Deshpran, who had given 180 acres in 2011 for the Nandigram-Deshpran railway line, wrote to junior railway minister Adhir Chowdhury yesterday about their demand.

They also submitted a written request to district magistrate Moloy Haldar. “We are looking into the matter,” he said.

Asked about the cry for jobs, minister Chowdhury said: “The railways can acquire land in public interest but there is no rule that all landloser families will have to be given jobs in addition to compensation. We will discuss the demands with the villagers.”

Mamata had laid the foundation for the project on January 29, 2010.

According to railway officials, the 17km line connecting Nandigram and Deshpran will help many commuters who have to depend on buses to go to Calcutta. The train line will reduce the journey time by at least an hour, an official said.

A railway official said: “Some of the villagers have already got jobs. In 2011, we had paid them between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 7 lakh an acre.”

One of the landlosers said Mamata had promised jobs for all while laying the foundation. “But only around 100 people have got jobs. What will happen to the others?” asked Proloy Kumar Jana, a farmer.

Asked about the state government’s failure to deliver on Mamata’s promise, Trinamul leader Abu Taher blamed the Centre.

“Mamata Banerjee had made the announcement on jobs as railway minister. It is now the duty of the railways to provide the jobs. If the landlosers don’t get jobs, it will amount to cheating. We support the demand of the landlosers,” Taher said.

Anindita Jana, 22, a landloser who got a railway job in the group D category, said: “I draw a monthly salary of Rs 12,000. I feel sorry for the others. It is unfortunate that many of the landlosers have not got jobs yet.”