Almost ten years after the government officials of West Bengal forcefully acquired land in Singur officials of the same state government on Wednesday openly praised the farmers for not to succumbing under pressure and organising protests in Singur.
“We are going to compensate the farmers who never succumbed to any pressure to hand over land to industrialists,” local government officials said.
Farmers were called on to the stage at an event organised by the government to return land and compensation on Wednesday where they were given compensation cheques by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the presence of Chief Secretary Basuddeb Banerjee and District Magistrate Sanjay Bansal. All the farmers from whom land was seized would be paid compensation—without interests—in a phased manner.
Apart from ministers and officials, the politicians of the ruling Trinamool Congress along with people from the civil society, who came out against land acquisition in 2006, took the front rows of the big podium constructed on the national highways in Singur.
Activist Medha Patkar, who was present on the occasion, asked Mamata to prevent the smart city project of Narendra Modi government. “Mamata ji blocked Tata project. I am sure she would also block the smart city project of Modi government”.
Thousands of people from Singur and farmers from other districts of the state attended the function.
Chief Secretary Banerjee said government would take steps to ensure that the land where Tata Motors has already set up factory is used for cultivation.
In 2006, former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had ordered land acquisition to set up factory of Tata Motors. However, Tata was forced to withdraw from the project owing to massive protests.
Mamata called onto the stage 12-year-old Payel Bag who was charged with trying to bomb the district magistrate 10 years ago and hugged her. THE WEEK had brought to light the torture that the girl had faced when she was just two years old.
When Trinamool Congress had come to power in 2011, it vowed to return the land and dismantle the factory shed. The matter went to Supreme Court after Tata refused to vacate the land. The apex court, earlier this month, ruled that the land acquisition was faulty one and did not serve any public intrest.
The West Bengal government started returning land to farmers even before Tata could take final call on moving to another bench of the apex court.
The West Bengal chief minister said she too had faced harassment during the CPM regime. “They beat me up. They took me out of the car and hit me on my chest. They pulled my hair”.
Mamata said the then governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi had taken pro-farmer stand.
The CM said the farmers would be given Rs 10,000 per person for buying seeds and loan up to Rs 24 lakh for buying farming equipment.
Further, Mamata asked Tata to not take the matter seriously. “If they wish land from government, I have 1,000 acres land ready at Goaltore ready for them. If they want to take and construct factory they can do that. I am giving them one month time to ponder over”.
Economist Amal Mukherjee dubbed this 'laughable' saying, “These days, industrialists get incentives across the country. Government would have to provide land according to their need and not according to the government’s wishes”.