Recent updates on Singur

Singur land for industry, says govt – Oct. 22, 2008
SC doesn’t like APDR filing petition on behalf of Singur farmers – Oct 13, 2008
CPM sees gain in Singur ‘restraint’: Flak for Tata at party meet – Oct 13, 2008

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Singur land for industry, says govt

Oct. 22, 2008: The Singur land leased out for the Nano project will be used only for industry, the state government said today.

“The nature of the land has been changed for setting up industry. So, in future, the state government will use the Singur land for setting up industry and increasing employment opportunities. For this, the government is taking specific steps,” a statement said.

Industries secretary Sabyasachi Sen said “one big project” need not necessarily come up there. “There could be small- or medium-scale enterprises, light engineering units, industrial parks or food processing parks that generate employment. Or, we may think of bringing projects that haven’t got land elsewhere.’’

He added that “as of now, we haven’t got any concrete proposal”.

First, the Tatas will have to inform the government whether they will vacate the land or hold on to it, Sen said. “We will ask them about their plans, probably in November. They are in the process of shifting machinery and have sought police help.”

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SC doesn’t like APDR filing petition on behalf of Singur farmers

Oct 13, 2008: The Supreme Court today took exception to legal battle fought by NGOs on behalf of farmers whose lands were acquired by the West Bengal Government for Tata Motors’ small car ‘Nano’ project at Singur.

“We don’t allow somebody else to file petitions on behalf of others,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said during the hearing of a petition on the issue filed by Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR).

The Bench questioned the locus standi of APDR, which claimed itself to be an old human rights organisation of West Bengal, for taking up the cause of farmers whose land were acquired by the state government for Tata Motors’ Nano project. The project last week moved to Gujarat due to political protests led by Trinamool Congress.

The court’s remarks came after Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for APDR, stated that though Tatas have moved out of Singur, the land still remained with the government.

However, the Bench, also comprising Justices P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam, wondered how can somebody else challenge the acquisition of land which was acquired for public purpose.

It said the petitioner had to disclose who these landowners were. “They (landowners) can say they have not authorised you to file the PIL,” the Bench said.

After brief hearing when Bhushan said that rules were not followed during the Singur land acquisition, the Bench tagged the matter with other batch of petitions pending before it.

The Association had challenged the Calcutta High Court’s decision that upheld as legal the acquisition of fertile multi-crop agricultural land by the state government for Tata’s Nano project.

This report appeared in The Hindu

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CPM sees gain in Singur ‘restraint’: Flak for Tata at party meet

Calcutta, Oct. 13, 2008: The state CPM leadership told the party central committee today the government’s success in preventing a re-run of the Nandigram violence in Singur would help it regain its support base in the general election.

Sources said leaders like Benoy Konar, Surjya Kanta Mishra and Banani Biswas explained to the rest of the committee the government’s moves in the wake of Mamata Banerjee’s agitation in Singur.

“Mamata wanted heaps of bodies in Singur before the polls. But we knew it would neither help us nor the Tatas,” MP Mohammad Salim said.

The “restraint” shown to avoid clashes with the Opposition — in contrast to Mamata’s “unreasonable stand” — would help build public opinion in support of the government’s pro-industry moves in the future, the Bengal brigade said.

Leaders from other states who had earlier raised questions on the police firing in Nandigram, which embarrassed the party nationally, today praised the restraint.

Some of them went into the “political implications of the project’s relocation to the BJP-ruled Gujarat, helped by NDA-ally Mamata” and said the party should highlight the “Mamata-Modi nexus”.

Such a campaign, the leaders felt, would help offset the feared erosion of minority votes after the bloodshed in Nandigram.

The party is gearing up to take on both Trinamul and the Congress in its Lok Sabha poll campaign. “We know the Congress and Trinamul will go for an alliance,’’ said Konar.

Several members expressed unhappiness over the Tatas’ “hasty” decision to shift the project despite the government’s “best efforts” to help them and promise of security.

Some of them said the government should urge the Tatas to come up with another project at the Nano site or initiate talks with other groups to set up another industry on the acquired land.

The criticism of the Tatas was in tune with politburo member Sitaram Yechury’s editorial in the party organ People’s Democracy, where he accused them of being “unreasonable” like Mamata.

“Yechury reflected the feelings of the party as well as chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Ratan Tata could have waited a little longer. The situation was not bad enough to say goodbye,” said a leader from Bengal.

Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, too, drew flak for his role during the government’s talks with Mamata. Many felt he actually helped her, though some also appreciated his efforts. “He must be feeling bad now that the Tatas have left,’’ said one of them.