Telcon plant hits tribal land hurdle - Brakes slammed on string of projects

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By SIMI KAMBOJ in Calcutta
  • Published 23.01.07

Calcutta, Jan. 23: Land acquisition for the 1,280-acre payloader plant of Tata group company Telcon has hit a roadblock as a part of the proposed site cuts through tribal villages near Kharagpur.

“Around 150 acres in Baradeiha mouza that were earmarked for acquisition belong to tribal communities,” West Midnapore district magistrate B.P. Barat said. “We suggested that the government first provide alternative land to the people,” he added.

According to a proposed amendment to the West Bengal Land Reforms Act, if tribal land has to be acquired, those displaced should first be allotted an equal amount of land of the same character nearby.

“We’re asking the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation to ready a compensation package for these tribals. Only after that can the acquisition process begin,” a land and land reforms department official said.

Alternatively, the government will have to redraw the factory map.

The Telcon project is not the only one apparently stalled for the time being. Brakes have been applied on various projects since Nandigram erupted early this month.

Acquisition of some 6,000 acres in Dankuni for a township and an industrial park has been split into phases. The first involves only 156 acres.

Officials said the Hooghly administration has been told to “go slow” on other plots for real estate giant DLF’s proposed township.

“Notices have been issued for two plots measuring 156 acres, which are primarily marshy. Work on these would be carried out first, while we investigate the nature of the rest of the land,” district magistrate Binod Kumar said.

Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya had earlier set an August 2007 deadline for the first phase of acquisition for “India’s largest private township”.

It is the same story on the acquisition of around 1,740 acres for an industrial park in Uluberia.

Howrah district magistrate Nandini Chakraborty said there would first be an “intensive survey” of the plot scheduled for acquisition.

“We are preparing a preliminary investigative report, which will take over a month. Only then will the area to be acquired be decided,” she said.

For the proposed South 24-Parganas district headquarters in Baruipur, the government has slowed down even after issuing the first set of notices in November for the acquisition of 550 acres .

“We’re giving people some time,” said Jadavpur MP Sujan Chakraborty.

Although a survey has started for the 98-km Barasat-Raichak expressway, the acquisition will not begin before June. The CPM’s Diamond Harbour MP, Shamik Lahiri, said it will start only after Baruipur.

“We’re changing the alignment in several places to avoid canals, a graveyard in Bhangar, residential areas and fertile tracts. The final map will take some months to prepare,” Lahiri added.

Acquisition for the Kulpi port and special economic zone would be tricky, Lahiri admitted, as the area is “dotted with schools, temples, mosques and burial grounds”.