The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No politics please, pleads Sen

Calcutta/Singur, Sept. 11: With Opposition leaders ra-cing to Singur to flaunt their pro-farmer colours, industries minister Nirupam Sen today appealed to all parties not to politicise land acquisition.

“When investors have begun to come here, we don’t want anarchy and disruption. For the sake of development and industrialisation, I request all political parties not to politicise this issue or vitiate the atmosphere,” Sen said.

“The Tatas should not snatch land from poor farmers,” Mamata Banerjee had thundered in Singur yesterday.

Not to be outdone, Union minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi told a rally there today: “Under no circumstances, should multi-crop land be taken away for industries.”

In the face of the fusillade, Sen said: “I’ve personally spoken to the Opposition leaders. We don’t want to disrupt the development process.”

Earlier this morning, he held a long meeting with state CPM secretary Biman Bose at the party headquarters. Sources said the turnout at the Trinamul Congress rally yesterday had forced the government to adopt a conciliatory approach on Singur.

Tata Motors wants to roll out its Rs 1-lakh car from the proposed factory, about 45 km from Calcutta.

Sen said several industrial units have come up on farmland in the area over the past few years. “These include a multi-purpose cold storage, two petrol pumps, a ceramic factory and even a condom factory. All these have come up on agricultural land. Why didn’t someone take notice of these' How come nobody objected to them'” he asked.

“The Opposition is making an issue out of a non-issue, confusing farmers as well as common people. Investment has begun to pour into Bengal. The wrong kind of propaganda at this juncture will vitiate the atmosphere.”

The industries minister said the government would take care to promote and develop areas where land was being acquired for industry. “We would not only be creating jobs, but will also develop those villages. We’ll ensure that boys and girls there get employment. If this process is disrupted now, it will cause severe damage to our economy.”

CPM secretary Bose, also the Left Front chairman, said Trinamul should focus on something productive. “They are talking of possibilities of bloodshed arising out of land acquisition. If they have blood to spare, why don’t they organise a blood donation camp' It will serve the people better.”

Mamata had said: “I’d request the Tatas to look for alternative land for the project.”

Das Munshi said: “We want to sit with Tata representatives and the maps of Purulia, Bankura, Birbhum and Hooghly districts to logically point out the available land in these districts.”

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