The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha backs Tata on Singur charge

Jalpaiguri, Dec. 28: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said the state government had “specific” information that the rivals of the Tatas were encouraging trouble over the car factory project in Singur, Hooghly.

The comment comes a day after Ratan Tata accused “some…competitors” of fuelling the fire, adding a new dimension of corporate intrigue to the existing political issue. In an interview to a private television channel, Tata had expressed the determination to see through the project that will turn out cars costing Rs 1 lakh at the site some 40 km from Calcutta.

Though Mukul Roy, the general secretary of the Trinamul Congress, said Tata’s remark was an echo of what Left Front chairman Biman Bose had said earlier, Bhattacharjee told reporters here this morning: “We have heard what Ratan Tata said yesterday. Ever since the movement started against the Tata project at Singur, specific information (on the rivals) has been trickling in.”

The chief minister sounded confident after earning the corporate stalwart’s praise and felt that it was enough of an incentive to fortify his government’s stance on the Singur issue.

“It seems that the problem at Singur is the first-of-its-kind for the Tatas who had set up several industrial units across the country. We want to make it clear that when an industrialist like Tata can encourage us, we find no harm in strengthening our stance to protect the interests of the people living in the state,” said Bhattacharjee.

In another appeal to Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee whose fast entered the 25th day today, the chief minister said the government was ready to discuss anything but the demand to roll back the project.

Bhattacharjee also spoke at length on the projected increase in employment opportunities in Singur and the details of the compensation package.

“Under the land acquisition act, it is not necessary to obtain consent from the owners. Even then, we have consent letters signed by 96 per cent of the landowners. They have accepted the compensation package, which is highest in the country now. The process is on to resolve the problem of the remaining four per cent,” Bhattacharjee said.

About the progress of the project in Singur, the chief minister said preliminary tasks like        soil testing and contour mapping have been completed. “The land will be handed over (definitely) to the Tatas,” Bhattacharjee signed off.

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