The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM launches mission Singur

Singur, June 4: The CPM peasant's wing today launched a drive to convince farmers at Singur that they won't end up losers if the Tatas set up their small-car plant there.

At a street-corner meeting at Singur Bazar, about 45 km from Calcutta, a CPM leader even promised jobs in the new factory for local people, though industries minister Nirupam Sen said in Calcutta no such guarantee can be given.

'The Tatas will train and absorb those who stand to lose their home as well as land, their sole source of sustenance,' said Balai Sabui, a Hooghly district committee member and leader of the Krishak Sabha, the CPM's farmer wing.

The Tatas want 1,000 acres for their Rs 1,000-crore car project. It is expected to generate 10,000 jobs.

Sen said the villagers do not have the expertise and training to work in the Tata plant.

Sabui could not probably have been so direct at a place where some farmers grow up to four crops a year and many of them are bent on preventing the government from taking away their land.

The CPM today formed a 10-member 'motivator team' led by Sabui to fan out to the villages of the three panchayat areas ' Bajemelia, Kamarkundu and Gopalnagar ' where farmland will be taken over for the Tata unit.

A six-member committee led by district CPM secretary Binod Das and MPs Rupchand Pal and Anil Basu has been entrusted with the job of co-ordinating with the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, the state government agency that will acquire the land for the Tatas.

The party has started an exercise to explain to the farmers the compensation they will be offered.

Small group discussions are being held in the villages. Next, there would be a string of rallies in the area.

The government is offering 30 per cent over the market rate and an additional 10 per cent for those who sell their land voluntarily. In case of delayed payment, a 12 per cent interest will also be paid.

This evening's meeting was held 10 km from the proposed site.

There, CPM zonal committee secretary Suhrid Dutta urged local Trinamul Congress MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya and the 'Trinamul friends' not to 'confuse the farmers by spreading misinformation about the compensation' and thanked Congress leaders for their support to the drive for 'development'.

According to the CPM leaders, only 250 bighas of the land earmarked for the Tatas yield three crops a year.

After the meeting, Ashis Saha, who owns 100 bighas, Swarup Barui, who owns 60, and Dwarik Ghosh, the owner of 15 bighas ' at Beraberi ' said they would sell their land.

Cultivation, Saha added, is no longer cost-effective and remunerative prices for produce have become uncertain.

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