Bengal Turns Down Tatas' Request For Status Quo

Mumbai, India (PressExposure) July 04, 2011 -- Mamata government initiates process to give land back to farmers.

The West Bengal government has set the ball rolling for distribution of land to the "unwilling" farmers at Singur, the erstwhile site for the Nano car project, rejecting the "workable solution" proposed by Tata Motors.

The committee formed for the distribution of land met last evening and decided to expedite the process of distribution. Application forms were distributed to the "unwilling" farmers (the ones who did not want to sell their land for the project and had demanded its return) this morning from the office of the block development officer and also in the villages.

On Friday, Tata Motors had proposed a "workable solution" that entailed no change in the distribution of land in view of the ongoing hearing in the high court here on the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011. The Act cancels the earlier state government agreement with Tata Motors and takes back all the land leased to the later for the factory.

Tata Motors' counsel Samaraditya Pal had requested the state advocate-general to consider keeping the distribution of land in abeyance and the AG had said he'd think over it during the weekend and communicate on Monday. However, with the state government going ahead, it is clear that it would not consider such a proposal. The AG would have to formally say so tomorrow.

Tata Motors' counsel has completed his arguments in the petition. He had said the new law was unjust and improper and was in conflict with the basic principle of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, under which the entire land (997 acres) at Singur for Tata Motors and its 54 vendors was acquired. There was no provision of returning acquired portions under the Land Acquisition Act to erstwhile land losers -- it would either have to be used for some other public purpose or could be auctioned.

Another reason why Tata Motors wanted to keep the process of distribution in abeyance was that the Singur Act had provision for compensating the company. Tata had invested Rs 1,800 crore in developing and levelling the land, apart from the plant and machinery. Though a lot of the infrastructure was shifted when the project was relocated to Sanand in Gujarat, building and sheds worth Rs 440 crore remained at Singur and the company said it was incurring monthly expenses of Rs 1 crore in maintaining it. However, the vendors were not entitled to compensation, according to the Singur Act, as they were allottees and not lessees.

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Press Release Submitted On: July 04, 2011 at 2:06 am
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