The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singur land bargain

Calcutta, June 8: The CPM has agreed in principle to offer land in exchange for plots acquired from “unwilling farmers” in Singur.

The party leadership, however, appeared divided on the location of the alternative land — inside the Tata Motors project area or outside.

The lack of clarity prompted Mamata Banerjee to step up pressure by vowing to go ahead with a multi-city protest programme in July. Mamata wants land within the project site to be returned.

CPM and Left Front sources said Jyoti Basu would like the government and the Tatas to be “flexible”. But chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and industry minister Nirupam Sen, who attended today’s CPM secretariat meeting where the issue was discussed, are in no mood to nudge the company.

Unhappy at the way Basu had “unsettled the settled facts in Singur” by allowing Mamata to club it with Nandigram during their Monday meeting, Bhattacharjee and Sen reportedly told the veteran it was too late to ask the Tatas to redraw the layout.

Asked if the “land-for-land” will be carved out of the Tata project area, Basu said: “No alternative land is available there, but elsewhere. But why will they (Opposition) accept it'” The question is being seen as an indication of Basu’s disapproval of the formula.

“The formula for settlement is still possible. But I don’t know how the problem will be solved. I can’t say what they (Opposition) will settle for,” Basu added.

“Nirupam is looking into the matter of returning the land. There are some legal complications. He is preparing a note on it.” The note is expected to be placed at a front meeting tomorrow.

The sources said Basu would like the government to explore the possibility of altering the boundary without compromising the contiguity of the Tata site.

While the 645-acre mother plant is to be spared, he wants to see whether some land-losers can be accommodated in part of the 300-odd acres meant for ancillary units. The rest can be settled elsewhere or given an “attractive compensation package”.

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