In a last ditch effort to quell protestors and keep the Nano project from moving out, the government of West Bengal is looking to play its ultimate trump card – government jobs for those who are foregoing their land in Singur.
Apart from jobs, land-for-land and cash compensation are among the proposals that the Bengal government plans to offer to negotiators on behalf of Mamata Banerjee and the protesters. Both sides are scheduled to hold talks on Friday.
These offers, a government official said, are likely to be made in combo packs and not in mutually exclusive formats.
The most remarkable feature of the offer is the lure of government jobs, borrowed from what is known as the 'coalfield model'. When land is acquired for coalfields the standard compensation is to offer a job for each acre of land.
Those who have less than an acre are usually asked to pool in land to make up one acre to be eligible. Government sources indicated that even if the offer is made to all land losers (on Mamata's side) and land givers (on government's side), on paper it would require the government employing 997 additional people, a small price to push through the project. Actually the figure will be far lower.
The government think tank had also explored the possibility of including these people in the ‘exempted category’, that is usually reserved for ex servicemen, handicapped people etc.
Cash compensation can take more forms, including annuities, the official said.
What appeared almost certain is that if any acceptable formula emerges, it will apply to all those farmers from whom some 997 acres of land have been acquired for the Nano project, including those who are not protesting.