Thursday, December 21, 2006

Allies call for ‘consent’ check

Allies call for ‘consent’ check

Calcutta, Dec. 20: Allies today asked the CPM to constitute an all-party legislators’ committee to ascertain the actual number of Singur farmers who were unwilling to sell their land to the government and provide them with alternative plots to till.

RSP leaders Debabrata Banerjee and Kshiti Goswami also suggested to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, state CPM secretary Biman Bose and party veteran Benoy Konar a “people’s panel” comprising land-use experts and people from various walks of life.

“Their job will be to clear the confusion over the actual number of farmers still unwilling to sell land for the Tata Motors unit. As there is a difference between the number of farmers that the chief minister says have given their consent to the acquisition and Trinamul’s claims on the number of unwilling farmers, this is imperative” an RSP leader said after the meeting.

The CPI and the Forward Bloc approved of the idea. The Left Front partners will make further suggestions in separate meetings with the CPM later this week.

The RSP leaders said the chief minister had left when they suggested the all-party panel, but Bose and Konar apparently “supported” the idea.

Quoting from the chief minister’s letter to Mamata Banerjee, Bose said the government has received consent for 954 acres out of 997.11 required for the Tata project.

The Trinamul-led Krishi Jomi Banchao Committee has disputed the figure and filed an affidavit in a Hooghly court listing 712 “unwilling farmers” who hold around 415 acres.

An RSP leader said the chief minister should take a lesson from the Singur trouble. “Henceforth, we expect the government to depend more on local political campaigns and persuasion to acquire land instead of depending on the bureaucracy and police,’’ he said.

However, the chief minister stood his ground. “If I had not given land to the Tatas, the project would not have come to Bengal. Now, history’s wheel can’t be turned back,’’ he reportedly told the front leaders.

The Tatas have still not said no to Uttaranchal, whose government wants the small-car plant in that state, Bhattacharjee said. He also refused to lift section 144 or withdraw police from Singur as demanded by the Bloc and the RSP for fear of law-and-order problems.

The chief minister said he would strive for an amicable settlement. “But the problem is that the Trinamul chief is unpredictable,” he is said to have told the allies.


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