A day ahead of the hearing of the Tata Motors’ plea in the Supreme Court against its decision to return the land of the abandoned Nano factory in Singur to farmers, the West Bengal government fast-tracked the process on Tuesday to hand over the land to 12 of them.
Government officials were working at a frantic pace to complete the paperwork to give farmers the possession of their land on Wednesday morning.
The move came 57 months after 997.17 acres of farm land at Singur in Hooghly district, 40 km northwest of Kolkata, was acquired to build the world's cheapest car.
On Tuesday, the district administration showed 12 farmers their land inside the plant, which had been a forbidden walled-up zone since September 2006.
"A total 3.8 acres were shown to 12 farmers in the Gopalnagar-Koleypara area inside the plant,” said Becharam Manna, MLA of the neighbouring Haripal constituency and a member of the Krishjami Raksha Committee. “The papers are being processed in the district magistrate’s office in Chinsurah, about 35 km away from Singur.”
Farmers were reluctant to wait till late in the night to collect the papers, so, the letter of authority would be handed over on Wednesday morning, he said.
Pradip Koley, who is among the 12 waiting to get the papers, said: “It's a historic moment. I have no words to express my feelings.” He owned 0.65 acres.
The farmers will have to make do with alternative plots. So far, 1,230 of them have approached the government to get back their land.
From the farmer, to the farmer
May 18, 2006: Ratan Tata and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee announce Nano project at Singur.
Sept 20, 2006: Land vests with government.
December 28, 2006: Mamata ends 25-day hunger strike.
March 9, 2007: Tata Motors gets possession of land.
January 10, 2008: Nano unveiled at New Delhi auto show.
January 18, 2008: Calcutta high court approves acquisition.
October 3, 2008: Ratan Tata pulls out.
May 13, 2011: Trinamool sweeps Bengal polls.
June 9, 2011: Mamata Banerjee announces ordinance to take back Singur land.
June 13, 2011: Assembly passes Singur bill.
June 20, 2011: Governor signs bill.
June 21, 2011: Govt vests Singur plot.
June 22, 2011: Tata Motors challenges Singur Act in Calcutta high court; seeks stay on govt order.
June 27, 2011: Calcutta high court refuses to grant stay; Tata decides to move Supreme Court.
June 28, 2011: Land survey begins in morning, plot papers handed over in the evening.
According to an estimate more than 2,600 farmers in Singur stood up to the Left Front government and refused to accept compensation for their land. After storming to power, the Trinamool Congress government worked on its poll promise to return land to farmers. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced an ordinance to take back the land and on June 13 the assembly passed a bill to authorise it.
The government would return 400 acres of the reclaimed land and use the rest for development projects.
On Monday, Tata Motors moved the Supreme Court against Calcutta high court's interim order that refused to stay the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, enacted to take back the land allotted to the company.