Senior West Bengal minister Partha Chattopadhay on Sunday said the Left Front government allotted land in Singur for the Nano car project in 2006 even though Tata Motors sought land in Kharagpur.
Over three weeks after the Supreme Court struck down the land allotted for the project and ordered it be returned to its original owners, state education and parliamentary affairs minister Chattopadhyay attacked the former Left Front (LF) regime for “snatching multi-crop land for the project”.
Addressing a rally in Singur of Hooghly district, about 40 km from Kolkata, Chattopadhyay said the Trinamool Congress (TMC) had wanted the Nano to be rolled out from the state. “But we wanted the factory to come up on a land earmarked for industry, and not on multi-crop agricultural land.”
He said as the leader of opposition in the assembly then, he had demanded the agreement between Tata Motors and the state government be placed in the House several times.
“But the LF government did not agree. Later, after I became minister, I found out (from) official files that the Tatas had sought land at Kharagpur and not at Singur for the project.”
The rally was organised to observe Singur Adhikar Raksha Divas (Singur Rights Protection Day) -- the day on which incumbent chief minister Mamata Banerjee, then the opposition leader, laid siege on the Singur Block Development office in 2006, protesting against “fraudulent distribution of cheques to land owners”.
Police had later in the night driven Banerjee out of the office later.
Following an intense and often-violent peasant movement which demanded return of 400 acres -- of the total 997.11 acres acquired -- to farmers who refused to give up their land, the Tatas announced shifting the project out of Singur on October 3, 2008. The Nano project was then moved to Sanand in Gujarat.
After coming to power in 2011, the TMC-led government formulated a law to return the land to the cultivators. The Tatas went to court, and on August 31 this year, the Supreme Court struck down the land allotment.