Mamata Banerjee unveils the foundation stone of the wagon factory at Buniadpur on Friday. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha
Buniadpur, Aug. 31: Mamata Banerjee, who has chosen to keep the state’s hands off land acquisition, today appealed to villagers in South Dinajpur for plots to set up anganwadi centres and hinted that the government was finding it difficult to get land.
The chief minister, while speaking about acquiring land for an AIIMS-like hospital, has told a rally in Itahar yesterday that she would not “put a gun to a farmer’s head” and take his land.
Today she said: “We are unable to set up anganwadi centres in the district. Another 1,100 centres have to be set up in South Dinajpur but we are not getting land. I will request those who have land or two rooms to spare to please give them to the government for setting up the anganwadi centres. Only a cottah is required for a anganwadi centre.”
Some Congress leaders in North Dinajpur, where the AIIMS-like hospital was supposed to be built said Mamata could have made a similar appeal in Itahar yesterday.
“She could have made a similar appeal for the AIIMS-like hospital at Raiganj which was the dream of our leader Priya Ranjan Das Munshi,” said a senior Congress leader.
Raiganj Congress MP Deepa Das Munshi said there was no opposition to the project there. “There are no unwilling farmers here. Only the chief minister is unwilling,” she said. Deepa had alleged earlier that the state government was trying to move the hospital project to Nadia.
On two occasions earlier, Mamata had appealed for land for two projects.
During a visit to Gosaba in the Sunderbans on January 31, she had appealed to the villagers to part with their land for building embankments in Aila-affected areas.
On May 18, during a visit to Furfura Sharif, Mamata had requested local people, who were demanding higher compensation for land, to allow a pending rail link between Furfura Sharif and Dankuni to be completed.
“I am not asking for much. If the landowners want, the centres will come up in the names of their mothers, wives or children. The government will spend on building the infrastructure. They will be allowed to use the premises for other purposes when the centre closes for the day,” Mamata said. Those who want to donate their land should speak to the block development officer, she said.
Mamata also appealed for a change in the next panchayat elections in the district. “There are some roads and bridges under the zilla parishad which need immediate repairs. The zilla parishad is run by another party. We will appeal to them to do the repairs. You have the choice of exercising your right and bring to power whom you want in the next panchayat polls.”
The chief minister had to cut short her programme at a field adjacent to the Buniadpur railway station after crowds pushed through the security barricade. The chief minister had to walk around 8km to reach the venue as the convoy could not pass through the narrow road leading to the railway station.
A board announcing the rail wagon factory was dismantled on the chief minister’s instructions to allow the crowd to have a glimpse of her.