In Nandigram, where the Trinamool Congress had once started a movement against land acquisition, the party has now issued a notice for land acquisition.
At the CPI(M)’s one time Waterloo, the Trinamool Congress led Zilla Parishad has issued a notice for land acquisition that has made the people of the area extremely unhappy.
They have made it clear that they are unwilling to hand over the land for making roads unless they get proper compensation. Local residents also alleged that they were being threatened by Trinamool Congress leaders.
In 2007 the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), an anti-land acquisition organisation supported by the Trinamool Congress, had launched a movement against land acquisition in Nandigram after the Left Front government announced the setting up of a chemical hub and SEZ in the area.
Their protests finally forced former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to abandon the plan, giving the area the distinction of becoming his and his party’s Waterloo.
Now, the party that started the anti-acquisition movement in the area has, despite Mamata Banerjee’s many assurances that they would not acquire land forcefully, issued a land grab notice in the area.
Sources said that the Zilla Parishad and panchayat samiti had decided to construct a bypass to avoid traffic jams in Nandigram, and had allocated about three acres of land to build this detour. This is why the land acquisition notice has been posted.
One hundred and forty families received the notice and have refused to give up their land without adequate compensation, sources suggested.
The families also alleged that after receiving the notice, they had been threatened by local Trinamool Congress leaders, who said they would create problems if they didn’t hand over the land.
Locals also said that even Trinamool MP Suvendu Adhikari were among those who threatened them. Sources also said that a meeting had been held on January 24 at the district magistrate’s office regarding this matter.
At the meeting, Suvendu told locals present, “Our government is not weak. You have to give land.”
Residents of the area are so distressed that they weren’t even willing to elaborate their views on the matter or have their names published. They said that the government and administration had fixed the rate of the land without discussing it with them.
“We were surprised when we heard that we have to give our land and at an almost nominal price. They hadn’t discussed the matter or the rate with us and fixed the price at just R17,000 per unit of land. However, the current rate is not less than R4 lakh and we are not willing to give up the land at this price. We do not know what we should do when our leader Suvendu Adhikari told us in threatening tones that we would have to give the land,” said one landowner on the condition of anonymity.
The locals who got the notice that their land would be acquired say they are not against development but would have to draw the line somewhere. “We are not agreeable to give land unless we get a proper price for it,” they said.
They also registered their surprise at the notice. “The chief minister said that she and her government would not acquire land forcefully. Then why was such a notice issued without even discussing the proper price or taking our consent? The Trinamool leaders are saying we must give the land,” the landowners said.
Although Adhikari was not available for comment, Mamud Hossain, general secretary of the East Midnapore district Trinamool Congress committee, who is also the saha-sabhadhipati of East Midnapore Zilla Parishad, denied the allegations. “No one from our party threatened anyone. Nor has anyone registered a complaint with us in this regard. Some people are making false accusations,” he said.
The CPI(M) leadership criticised the government’s move. “At last they (Trinamool Congress) has understood that land is required for development and setting up new projects. But they have to discuss it with the locals and fix everything at meetings.
They have not done this in Nandigram. Before issuing such a notice, they should have discussed the details with the locals. Now they are forcefully acquiring land,” said district CPI(M) leader Niranjan Sihi.