The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Acquisition office under siege

Singur/Calcutta, Aug. 22: Over 1,000 members of the Krishi Jami Banchao (save farmland) Committee laid siege to a camp for eight hours today to prevent other farmers from giving their consent to land acquisition for Tata Motors’ car plant there.

Six district officials waited all day for the residents of Be-raberi mouza at the makeshift camp set up next to the block development office, but no one turned up. No one could, because the anti-acquisition brigade had cordoned off the premises.

The siege, which started at 10, ended after the officials went back.

“No farmer will give consent to the land acquisition for the Tata factory. We will lodge our protest whenever a camp is set up,” said Becharam Manna, the convener of the committee.

The committee enjoys Trinamul Congress backing. Local Trinamul MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya has featured at the committee’s programmes regularly.

The Hooghly administration had last month notified 1,013 acres belonging to 4,000 farmers for acquisition.

Only 45 farmers have officially given their nod to the takeover since August 1, said BDO Abhijit Mukherjee. “No one came today to register their consent or objection to the acquisition because of the demonstration,” he added.

At the camp, landowners can also raise objections about the compensation being offered for their plots. If they can convince the officials that their land deserves a better deal according to the market value, they will get it.

The last date of hearing is August 28. “After that, we’ll issue a notice and declare the price the plots will fetch,” a land and land reforms department official said in Calcutta. Landowners who do not record their objections will be deemed to have none at all.

After that, the acquisition will only be a formality, the official added.

The notice to be issued by the collector will declare that “the government intends to take possession of the land”.

The CPM today reiterated its resolve to get more Singur farmers to rally behind the industrialisation drive. “If they assemble 200 people to obstruct the government’s moves for land acquisition, we will organise 2,000 to foil their designs,’’ CPM state secretariat member Benoy Konar said.

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