The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM picks land for Salim

Calcutta, Sept. 20: Large tracts of land to be allotted to Indonesia’s Salim Group to set up a special economic zone in South 24-Parganas have been identified and are going to be ready for handing over after Durga Puja, CPM leaders overseeing the process said.

“We have identified what you can describe at this point as a few probable sites,” said industries minister Nirupam Sen this evening.

“The sites will be shown to them (Salim Group) for making the choice.” Sen will shortly start the government exercise in land allotment.

Nearly 2,500 acres of mono-crop land have been identified at Uttarbhag lying north of Baruipur, off the line dividing Baruipur and Canning subdivisions.

CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said work on marking land for the proposed four-lane highway through the district was also progressing. “I do not want to offer any definite comment on identification of land, but discussions are well under way.”

This Saturday, the CPM’s district leadership will have an exclusive session on Uttarbhag to discuss the political and economic implications of allotting land there to the Salim Group. The decision of the district secretariat will then be placed before the state leadership and the government.

“Our preliminary selection of site for the Salim project is Uttarbhag,” said land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Molla who is part of an informal land search committee made up of local people’s representatives of the CPM. The others are Samik Lahiri and Sujan Chakraborty, both MPs, Kanti Ganguly, the Sunderbans affairs minister, and the district magistrate.

Falling under Baruipur police station, Uttarbhag is almost without habitation, though an estimated 2,500 farmers grow paddy here. Uttarbhag also consists of large pockets where vegetables and seasonal fruits are grown.

Molla, who triggered the debate in and outside the CPM over allotting farmland to the Salim project, said today Uttarbhag looked the ideal spot because of the availability of contiguous plots.

“The advantage of Uttarbhag is that it is one large mono-crop area. However, finalising the process will take some time, because it requires feedback from the party, panchayat, irrigation and agriculture departments. We are not expecting to finalise things before the Pujas,” said a senior member of the search panel.

Saturday’s district secretariat meeting assumes significance as chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is scheduled to address a public meeting in South 24-Parganas on Monday.

Bhattacharjee’s rally has been planned to counter Mamata Banerjee’s attempts to whip up passion over use of farmland for the Salim project.


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