Singur (West Bengal), Sep 13 (IANS) A festive mood prevails in Singur where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will on Wednesday return 9,117 land records to farmers and compensate 800 peasants from whom land had been taken against their will for the Tata Motors’ Nano project, redeeming a pledge she made years back.
Two weeks after the Supreme Court struck down the land acquisition made by the erstwhile Left Front government and ordered the land be returned to the cultivators, the state government will celebrate the “Singur festival” in the Hooghly district rural pocket, even as skeptics raise questions over the industrial prospects of the state after the recent turn of events.
The main function is being held at Sanapara – the same spot of the Durgapur Expressway where Banerjee had held a 16-day sit-in protest in 2008 demanding 400 acres out of the total 997.11 acres acquired for the project be returned to the “unwilling farmers”. The intense and often violent peasant movement had resulted in Tata Motors abandoning the Singur project and later bringing out the small car Nano from Sanand in Gujarat.
Banerjee, who had staked a lot during the movement, and even undertaken a 26-day hunger strike, rode on the anti-land acquisition stir in Singur and Nandigram (in East Midnapore district) to end the 34-year LF rule and become the state’s first woman chief minister.
Both during the agitation, and after coming to power in the state in May, 2011, Banerjee had promised to return the land to the farmers. In fact, the first decision of the Banerjee cabinet was to return 400 acres to the peasants.
As Banerjee returns for her tryst with Singur on a triumphant note, a huge 80 feet long and 60 feet wide stage has been erected on one side of the Durgapur Expressway.
Pulling out all stops to make the programme a success, the district administration has installed floodlights and CCTV cameras and deployed 5,000 civic volunteers and police personnel to ensure fool-proof security. Around a dozen giant screens have come up in Singur and adjacent areas so that people can watch the entire proceedings live.
On August 31, the Supreme Court had quashed the land acquisition for the small car factory and given 12 weeks time to return the land to farmers.
Banerjee on Monday said that out of 997.11 acres, the state would complete land survey and demarcation of plots for 620 acres by Tuesday.
Asked about the demolition of the factory shades and administrative offices of Tata Motors at the abandoned project site, Banerjee had said: “We are following the verdict of the Supreme Court. We expect they will shift their materials. We will request them. If they don’t or request us to shift the materials, the state government will set aside the same.”
The state government has deployed its state apparatus in a massive way to complete the land survey expeditiously. Drones and GPS satellite mapping had been used for the purpose.
The opposition Left Front and the Congress have derided the debt-stressed state government for “wasting” money on the celebrations, at a time when it had failed to rope in big investments that could have brought the much-needed jobs to the state.