Calcutta, July 4: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today told CPI leaders that the Indonesian Salim Group would develop as many as 10 small townships along the proposed 100-km Barasat-Raichak road.
Bhattacharjee, who was accompanied to the meeting by industry minister Nirupam Sen, told his Left Front partners that the Salim Group would be given land to construct a satellite township at Baruipur, the new headquarters of South 24-Parganas district.
He told them the Indonesian conglomerate would bear the entire cost of land acquisition as well as construction of the Barasat-Raichak road and the Raichak-Kukrahati bridge that would drastically cut travel time to Haldia.
The Baruipur township the group will build should help the government cut expenditure on building infrastructure for the new district headquarters and housing for its own employees.
“In exchange, the Salim Group will be given the right to develop townships as well as land for a special economic zone in Haldia. The group will have the right to sell plots, flats as well as sheds at both the places,” the chief minister said.
He assured the allies that the developers had agreed to pay compensation to land-losers according to the package declared by the government. The Haldia SEZ would spare farmland and come up in a zone where silt from the river Haldi is deposited.
Bhattacharjee informed them about the government’s efforts to find investors for a new airport within 35 km of the existing one at Dum Dum.
The possibility of losing farmland to industry worries allies. Addressing this con- cern, the chief minister said food security would be maintained by increasing cultivable land, referring to the Chinese experience.
“The chief minister made it clear that the days of a command economy are past and he would risk flight of capital by dictating choices and terms to investors,” said a CPI leader.
The CPI leaders submitted a two-page note on the party’s apprehensions over the acquisition of agricultural land for industry and infrastructure projects. Bhattacharjee said he would shortly circulate a detailed paper on the government’s moves to the allies to dispel their misgivings.
The Hooghly administration today announced that the notice for acquiring land at Singur for Tata Motors’ small-car project would be issued next week. It said multi-crop land would not be touched.
“We will target mostly single-crop and fallow land,” district magistrate Vinod Kumar said after an all-party meeting.
Kumar said that after identification of the land, farmers would have a month to register their claims and objections. “We will open local camp offices where farmers whose land would be identified can agree or object to the acquisition. We will speak to all farmers whose land is identified.”
Other than the mainline parties, Kumar invited to the meeting representatives of the Krishi Jomi Banchao (save farmland) Committee, which is opposed to the acquisition of agricultural land.
Becharam Manna, its convener, said Kumar gave the assurance that land would not be forcibly taken from farmers.
However, local Trinamul Congress MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya said: “If the majority of farmers don’t want to give their land, we will launch a movement in their support.”