The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt mulls early bird bonus for all
- Protests on wane, Singur farmers in plot rethink

Calcutta, Sept. 29: With Tata Motors setting a year-end deadline for land transfer for its showpiece people’s car project, the government is trying to sweeten the land deal for yet-to-be-signed-up farmers and weed out opposition to industry in Singur.

The local panchayat samiti has forwarded a proposal to the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) to retain the same compensation structure for farmers agreeing to give up land even after the expiry of the consent deadline.

“Our suggestion is to retain the 10 per cent bonus for those who did not fill up the consent forms initially. Many of them have changed their minds after the beginning of the cheque distribution process,” said Ranjit Mondal, the Singur panchayat samiti president.

The compensation package announced included a 10 per cent bonus over the market price of land — besides a 30 per cent solatium and 12 per cent interest (in case of delayed payment) — for those giving up land voluntarily.

“Some farmers have requested the government to retain the 10 per cent bonus as they had failed to avail the offer in the first phase because of some problems. The WBIDC is considering it,” said commerce and industries secretary Sabyasachi Sen.

On paper, the acquisition of 993 acres in Singur is complete. WBIDC will have to take physical possession of the land and hand it over to Tata Motors.

Around 1,600 consent forms were submitted with the district magistrate’s office and over 3,200 compensation cheques were prepared. In the past four days, 2,157 of them were distributed from the Singur block office. The process will resume after the Puja break.

According to Mondal, the resistance by farmers opposed to land acquisition has gone down in the past few days and more people are coming forward to give up land.

“There are instances like the Ghosh family of Gopalnagar…. They have over 3 acres and want to fill up the consent form. We are talking to them and others and we think the 10 per cent bonus will help convince them,” added Mondal, part of the eight-member core committee that the CPM had set up in Singur to look after the acquisition.

Matching the government’s efforts, Tata Motors is do- ing its bit — despite issuing the ultimatum of looking elsewhere if the plot was not handed over by 2006 — to win over the people of Singur. From health centres and schools to training institutes and community centres — the Tatas will launch a slew of social initiatives in the area.

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