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Bengal brandishes carrot-and-stick strategy for Singur

Friday, 1 August 2008 - 2:57am IST
Admitting that Kant’s worries were quite justified, Sen said here the state government would ensure all possible security for the project

KOLKATA: The West Bengal government on Thursday promised to take all possible administrative action if ‘certain political forces did not desist from adopting undemocratic and illegal methods’ to jeopardise the Tata Motors’ small car project at Singur.

State industry and commerce minister Nirupam Sen made this stament a day after the Tata Motors’ managing director Ravi Kant hinted the management was losing patience over the tension at Singur over the project.

At the same time, Sen said the state government had kept its doors open for further negotiations on improved compensation. “We are ready for any negotiation except return of land to unwilling farmers, since that is not permissible under the law,” Sen said.

Admitting that Kant’s worries were quite justified, Sen said here the state government would ensure all possible security for the project as well as Tata Motors employees in Singur. “I would like to convey to Kant that the state government will ensure all possible cooperation to get the project sailing as per schedule.”

For the last couple of days, the Trinamool Congress-led Singur Krishijami Raksha Committee (Save Singur Farmland Committee) had been heckling engineers and workers deputed at the project. There are reports that committee activists had been threatening them with dire consequences unless they left Singur. They also threatened people who rented rooms to the outstation workers. “We will take all measures so that such things are not repeated. We have stepped up police arrangements,” Sen announced.

Confirming Sen’s statement, a senior Bengal police officer informed: “We have also deployed plain-clothes sleuths to track down anti-socials threatening the workers.”
Sen lamented it was quite unfortunate that a project of such magnitude, which could put West Bengal on the global automobile map, had to be commissioned under strict police surveillance. He quoted an observation by the supreme court which clearly stated that land once acquired by the government against compensation cannot be returned to the erstwhile landowner.

Asked if Samajwadi Party chief Amar Singh’s recent assurance to the Trinamool Congress to stand by it on this issue was supported by the Centre, Sen said, “I do not think so”.
r_sumanta@dnaindia.net




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