The dispossessed farmers of Singur are about to be robbed again.
The first was when the Left Front government had taken over their land at dirt cheap rates. And now, whatever little money they received have been siphoned away by chit funds, mostly with the encouragement of local Trinamool Congress men.
Alchemist — owned by Trinamool Rajya Sabha member KD Singh — is doing roaring business in Singur. So are Icore, Rose Valley and Prayag group of companies.
The principal local agent of Alchemist is Trinamool’s Dudh Kumar Dhara, an anti-acquisition leader who is also the panchayat pradhan of Beraberi.
Thanks to him, almost the whole of Khaserbheri village, epicenter of the anti-acquisition movement, has welcomed chit funds with open arms.
Most of the villagers do not even know in which project they have invested in. But the busting of Saradha bubble has terrified them.
“I have asked my agent to return my money, but he said it cannot be done till it matures,” said Madhav Dhara, who had borrowed Rs.20,000 to invest in Alchemist, hoping for a return of Rs.2 lakh. Nabakumar Dhara has invested Rs.R5000, so had Arup Dhara, nephew of the panchayat pradhan.
People are scared take Dhara head-on. The man being an influential Trinamool leader, they fear ruffling him might get them excluded from the list of acquisition-affected beneficiaries.
Farmers who did not accept compensation get a monthly stipend of R2,000 from the government.
Dhara, though, appeared rather nervous. “I was told by Alchemist and Icore that there was nothing fishy about their business.”
In a statement, the Alchemist Group said, “Alchemist is a large group and believes in fair business practices. The matter is in court and hence sub judice.”
In September 2012, KD Singh retired from all paid positions of the Group. He is currently the chairman emeritus of the Alchemist.