Calcutta, Aug. 7: Jyoti Basu today threw his weight behind the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government on the land-use controversy, terming its approach modern and meriting support from the CPM as a whole.
“There is nothing wrong if the government takes farmers’ land for the purpose of setting up industries after making arrangements for their livelihood and housing,” Basu said, expanding on the party line that state CPM secretary Anil Biswas detailed two days ago.
“Akashe shilpo hoy na (industry cannot be built in the air),” Biswas had said on Friday, responding to differences within the CPM and the Left Front on a proposal to lift the ceiling on land holdings.
Basu disclosed that he was scheduled to soon meet land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Molla, seen as the driving force behind the campaign that compelled the government to shelve an amendment to lift the ceiling.
Molla’s opposition to the amendment has cast a shadow on several investment proposals, such as those mooted by Salim Group of Indonesia and steel maker Sajjan Jindal.
“As our land minister as well as peasant leader, Rezzak may have some genuine concerns regarding the government’s initiative on removing land ceiling. But he must also be practical and try to understand that industrialisation is the need of the hour. Why, Rezzak should help us find the right land for industrial projects, like he did earlier,” said Basu.
“No investor will come to Bengal if they are not provided with land,” he added.
Basu said the opponents had no option but to eschew their reservations. “Some of us Leftists will have to change in tune with the changing times. If investors go to other states, we too must create opportunities for them.”
Basu recounted how Molla, during the veteran leader’s tenure as chief minister, had facilitated transfer of nearly 1,100 acres of land from farmers to the government for setting up of the Bantala leather complex on the EM Bypass.
“How did Rezzak forget that'” Basu asked, adding, “though the affected farmers were adequately compensated, the fact remains that the land was collected from farmers for the purpose of industrialisation.”
Molla, however, asserted today that he would stick to his stand. “I shall continue to oppose if attempts are made to take away multi-crop lands from farmers for setting up industries.”
There is no problem if mono-crop lands are taken from farmers for setting up industries, he said.