The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Factory gates shut, future uncertain

Singur, Sept. 8: Biswanath Das is not sure what the future holds for him.

The 20-year-old Tata Motors trainee from Rupnarayanpur village in Singur had been expecting a call from his boss by Sunday night asking him to get back to work from Monday morning.

When the cellphone didn’t ring till late this afternoon, Biswanath dozed off sitting inside the local club where his friends sat watching soaps on television. A sea of swirling questions had left his mind tired.

“Honestly, I don’t know what will happen now. All of us at the project had really worked hard to meet the October deadline and now, with this uncertainty hanging heavy, I have no clue when we would get back to work,” Biswanath said.

“Almost 80 per cent of the work is done and we just need a little more time to give the final shape (to the plant).”

Having completed Class XII from Singur Higher Secondary School, Biswanath had joined the ITI (Industrial Training Institute) at Belur Vidyamandir after being short-listed from among boys whose families had offered land for the project.

Around a bigha (a third of an acre) of his father had gone into the project.

A year’s training later, he bagged an offer letter from Tata Motors to work as a trainee-welder at the welding shop.

“After 15-months, I would have got a permanent job. And why me? Life has been so di-fferent for all the 8-10 youths from our village who had joined the company. We just hope things are finally sorted out,” he said, eyes fixed on a news channel.

The Tatas have promised to relocate all Singur youths who had got employment at the Nano plant in case the project has to be shifted.

For the likes of Biswanath, working for a big organisation close to home would have been a dream come true but they would “accept the transfer” for the sake of the job.

Pintu Pal and Pronob Santra — trainees at the electric and automobile shops — had also hoped to resume work at today’s 6am shift.

Gloom descended in many households in Bajemelia, Singherbheri and Gopalnagar, which have members working on the project.

Many refused to speak but could not conceal their frustration at the turn of events.

“My nephew Biswajit left for Belur Vidyamandir to attend a seminar this morning. We aren’t sure what it is about but he said he should attend it. It would at least be a break for him from the monotony of spending days aimlessly,” said Anup Kamley of Gopalnagar.

The uncertainty has left the plant’s casual workers on the brink of despair. Many wondered what went wrong even after the siege was put on hold. “We were told that work was likely to start from Monday but, then, our contractor didn’t say anything this morning,” said Vivekananda Adhikary, a road-roller driver from Sonarpur, South 24-Parganas, who earned Rs 5,000 a month.

He was happy, though, that the fear in which he lived over the past fortnight had gone with the protesters.

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