The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singur braces for battle: In court & on field

Calcutta/Chinsurah, Sept. 18: As the government is get- ting ready to take possession of land in Singur for the Tatas, an under-construction condom factory that was asked to pack up from there moved court today against the eviction.

Padma Sagar Export, a sister concern of Kailash Richter Rubber Tech — a joint venture between Malaysia’s Richter Hi-Tech and BA Jain & Co — filed a case in the high court challenging the notice served on it.

The company, slated to start production in October, said it had received all clearances and could not be ousted at this stage. The case will be heard tomorrow.

Land minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah, however, made it clear that the state would not balk at the acquisition. “It is the government’s job to acquire the plot for the factory. Officials and, if necessary, police will do the needful,” he said.

In Calcutta, the minister said: “Political parties and their cadre should not interfere in the process.”

In Singur, leaders of the save-farmland committee, which enjoys Mamata Banerjee’s blessings, discussed “strategy” to resist the land department and the police in a series of meetings tonight.

“We will face police bullets, but not yield an inch of land. We have drawn up a plan of resistance. We will have our women and children in front armed with lathis, scythes and brooms. Behind them will be the youths. The older farmers will bring up the rear,” said Becharam Manna, the convener of the farmers’ body.

Local Trinamul Congress MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya was among those who attended the meeting that finalised the war plan. “We are asking farmers to be alert. The administration will not be able to fence off the land without us knowing it,” he said.

Today was the last date for farmers to register their consent to the acquisition. About 70 farmers, who own 2.1 acres, agreed to sell it to the government today. A ceramics factory, which was asked to shift, also gave consent for 10 acres.

“We have received consent for 557.98 acres so far,” said Liakat Ali, the additional Hooghly district magistrate.

The land minister will address a public meeting in Singur on Sunday. He will tell the rally there was no option to the acquisition. The Tatas, shown several plots, had chosen Singur because they wanted their showpiece venture to be located near Calcutta.

The land reforms department is now calculating the compensation to be paid to the landlosers. The amounts will be declared by Thursday.

Land reforms commissioner Sukumar Das said: “Instead of making the farmers come to the district headquarters, we’ll set up payment counters at the block level.”

Required 997 acres

• Consented received for 557.98 acres
• Consent deadline Sept. 18
Compensation to be announced on Sept. 21
Possession to be taken on Sept. 25

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