The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM upset with Gandhi

Calcutta, Sept. 5: The government and the CPM are upset at the governor’s suggestion for return of some Singur land but have chosen to focus on talks with the Trinamul Congress for now.

“Our representatives at the meeting (at Raj Bhavan today) were competent enough to deal with such demands (for land return),” said CPM state secretary Biman Bose.

“Alternative plots for farming” were also ruled out at this evening’s meeting.

Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi had said the return of some acquired land should be considered “in a spirit of mutual accommodation”.

Other CPM leaders were more forthright in dismissing the suggestion. State secretariat member Benoy Konar said: “The governor indicated his wish on the return of some land today as well. But Nirupam (Sen) made it clear it would not be possible. If the governor is so willing, let him find out the landowners in the area who would sell their plots at the (old) acquisition price.

“Also, he will have to tell us how industrialisation would be possible in a state like Bengal where land is scarce.”

Industries minister Sen offered around 50 acres to set up a market for the “most needy” landlosers, along with other rehabilitation packages, but without making any distinction “between willing and unwilling farmers”.

Konar said the “token land” — around 5 per cent of the Tata Motors site — “would be for those poor and marginal farmers who lost all their land and have no other livelihood”.

He added that they would be given “small plots or built-up space to set up shops”.

“The land is not meant for cultivation but would be developed for commercial purposes. They will be given one cottah for each bigha acquired.”

The government is planning to buy around 30 acres for this purpose outside the project area and add it to the 20 acres under the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation in the project area.

Among other rehabilita- tion plans put forward was a pension scheme worth Rs 10 crore for elderly landlosers.

Konar suggested the stance would stay the same in the next round of negotiations.

“There won’t be any major change in the government’s position tomorrow,” he said after Sen briefed Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and others at Alimuddin Street on the three-hour meeting.

State secretariat members were categorical that land taken couldn’t be given back.

“We hope they (Trinamul leaders) see reason and come down to a realistic solution. The talks will break down if they insist on the return of acquired land. Neither the party nor the government can change its position,’’ Konar said.

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