NEW DELHI: Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), who had joined hands with the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in the struggle against land acquisition for Tata Motors' Nano project in West Bengal, has welcomed the company's decision to shift the project.
“We are very happy with (Tata group chairman Ratan) Tata's decision to leave Singur. He has some values. He should have taken this decision long ago,” Patkar said on Saturday.
After stoppign the work at the factory in Singur, about 40 km from Kolkata, due to the farmers' agitation, Ratan Tata finally gave up on the project and announced on Friday that the company would not continue in West Bengal to manufacture the world's cheapest car Nano.
Patkar said: “There are many things to be kept in mind before you acquire land. There is question of rehabilitation. One has to calculate the cost if it would be a profitable venture compared to the agriculture returns from the place and so on."
In case of Singur, Patkar said, these factors were not kept in mind and fertile farmland was taken away against the will of farmers.
She clarified she was not opposed to industrialisation. “It depends on the kind of industry you are planning to come up with. Industry should be agriculture based,” explained Patkar.
Asked if Banerjee had taken an adamant stance, Patkar said: “It depends on which side you are looking from. Didn't the government or the Tatas take an adamant stand?”
She said their struggle was one of non-violence and satyagraha but when “the (state) government refused to listen to the people, they also react".
Asked about the farmers who sold land to the state government, Patkar said: “They can probably ask for their land back.”
Reminded of Ratan Tata's caustic remark on the source of funds for agitators, Patkar shot back, saying: “He refuses to share details about investments even with people who are involved (in the project) and asks us (about funding). He cannot ask this question. Such questions were raised against the Narmada Bachao Andolan too and the Supreme Court replied properly to it.”