Singur (West Bengal), Sep 14 (IANS) Reaching out to the Tatas again, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday suggested the group set up an auto hub over 1000 acres in Goaltor of West Midanpore district and gave them a month’s time to think over the proposal.
Addressing a mammoth rally in this rural pocket of Hooghly district, where she returned land deeds and gave out compensation cheques to farmers from whom land had been taken by the erstwhile Left Front government in the state for Tata Motors’ Nano car plant, Banerjee said she would be happy if her proposal was accepted.
“Tatababu (as Banerjee calls the Tatas) could not set up a factory here,” Banerjee said referring to the aborted Singur project, where the peasant movement led by her had forced the company to shift the Nano plant to Sanand in Gujarat.
“We work with lot of companies of their Group. Tomorrow we will sign a treaty with a Tata group company for setting up an Industrial Training Institute,” she said.
Urging the Tatas to accept “sportingly” the August 31 Supreme Court verdict striking down the land acquisition made for the project and ordering the land be returned to the cultivators, Banerjee said: “The cultivators will now use the land as per their wish. I am giving you a month’s time, please think over. We have 1,000 acres of land with us at Goaltore. Will you set up an industry?
“If anybody wants to set up an auto industry, be it the Tatas or BMW, we have the land. If you want, you can contact (Industries Minister) Amit Mitra, or my chief secretary or secretary of the industries department. If you do so, we will be very happy,” she said after presiding over a function where 9,117 land deeds were returned to farmers and 800 peasants – from whom land had been taken against their will – compensated.
The chief minister said during her stint in the railway ministry or when her party colleague Mukul Roy held the portfolio, the Tatas got lot of orders. “They have got projects sanctioned by the panchayats also after we came to power in the state.” On the day the apex court delivered the Singur verdict, she had also welcomed the group’s investments in the state.
Banerjee said her government also had land in Panagar of Burdwan district which can be used for establishing industries.
“Now if you (industrialists) say you want a specific land of your choice, that is not in my hands. I can only give you land which is with the government. Our message is very clear. We want information technology, manufacturing units, employment oriented industries like textile, jewellery, ago-industry and other big industries.”
However, Banerjee reiterated her government’s hands-off policy on land acquisition and asked industrialists to negotiate directly with farmers.
“After we came to power, we told everybody to negotiate directly with farmers about land. I am opposed to forcible acquisition. Even for a plot for a railway project we take land after negoatign with the land owner.
“Whoever wants will buy, whoever wants will sell. Why should we get into that? Mark my words, Bengal will be the future model in this regard,” she said.