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Farmers vote for industry

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Durgapur
  • Published 11.05.09
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Durgapur, May 11: The government will acquire within two months 500 acres from farmers in Burdwan who had themselves offered their single-crop land for industrialisation two years ago.

When the district administration issued a notification for the acquisition recently, none of them raised any objection. In a newspaper ad yesterday, it announced the decision to take over the 500 acres.

Around 3,000 acres will be gradually acquired for an industrial complex in Ausgram and Kanksa blocks of Burdwan, about 200km from Calcutta.

“We’ll verify the ownership documents within the next two months and announce the compensation package,” said additional district magistrate (land acquisition) Asim Bhattacharya.

While pledging their land for industry in a memorandum submitted to district magistrate Manish Jain in June 2007, the farmers had sought a job for every landloser family besides cash.

Samsuddin Biswas, 62, who owns over three acres, said he did not want his two science graduate sons to become farmers. “I did not pay for their studies to make them farmers. It will be better if they get jobs in the factories that would come up.”

He was among those who had petitioned the administration for the industrial complex. “We are happy that the government has finally decided to set it up here,” Biswas added.

District officials said the administration had held nine all-party meetings to gauge the mood on the ground and the possible compensation package before issuing the acquisition notice, but Trinamul Congress representatives attended only one of them.

The party’s Durgapur president, Prabhat Chatterjee, declined comment.

Only about 50km away, in Burdwan’s Katwa where a 1,000MW power plant had been planned, Trinamul leaders also skipped all-party meetings and later fanned anti-acquisition protests. The government has managed to acquire only 350 acres of the 1,000-odd required. In Andal, not far away, the party is resisting acquisition for a Rs 10,000-crore airport and city.

However, Ausgram and Kanksa are known to be CPM bastions.

Kohinoor Ganguly, a member of the Ausgram II panchayat samiti who had represented the party at the meetings, said everyone there had agreed to the hub. “We had discussed compensation between Rs 8 lakh and Rs 10.8 lakh an acre. Surveys have been carried out to find out how many youths were eligible for jobs and vocational training.”