In a veiled threat to the people of Nandigram, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Sunday said if Nandigram wants to remain backward, then it can.
And in that case, the Chemical Hub proposed in Nandigram would be shifted to some other place in Bengal.
Speaking to a huge crowd of over one lakh people in a public meeting held just outside Nandigram, Buddha also offered olive branch to the people of Nandigram, when he said that his government would not use force to acquire 19,500 acres of land needed for the SEZ. Instead, Buddha said he wants Nandigram to understand the need for industries and happily give their land for it.
"Does Nandigram want to stay in dark? Is the Chemical Hub going to be my property? Why can't they understand that the coming of IOC and hundreds of other refinery units in Nandigram will completely change the life there? Bengal had to compete with eight States to get the Chemical Hub from Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. But now Nandigram is behaving illogically," said Buddha.
"What we are doing for the good of the people. However, the government will not acquire lands forcibly in Nandigram.
We have to explain to the people about how this hub will change their economic and social life.
And when they are ready I will give them the Chemical Hub," added Buddha amidst cheers from the crowds.
Buddha said that if the project goes away from Nandigram, it is the people who are going to suffer the most.
It would be shifted elsewhere but industrialisation will not stop.
He said Bengal after achieving agricultural success is now in the threshold of industrial take off and no force will stop him from bringing industries to the State.
"To create employment for the new generation, we need industries in Bengal. Just success in agriculture won't do. And for becoming truly developed we need industries in all the districts of Bengal," said Buddha.
Pointing at neighbouring Haldia, Buddha said 30 years back it was a fisherman's village. But today some of the major industries like Haldia Petrochemicals, Mitsubishi and others are operating there. The industrial investment in Haldia is to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore and 50,000 people work there.
"And today industrialists want to invest another Rs 10,000 crore there to se up new units. Germans, Americans and Tata have all shown interest to invest in Haldia. But why should there be only one Haldia in East Midnapore district? Nandigram is on the threshold of becoming another Haldia in the district. They should not lose this opportunity," said Buddha.
Taking a dig at Mamata Banerjee, Buddha said that the Opposition was out to derail the Left Front government from its journey towards industrialization. "They are telling lies. They are saying we do not need industries.
They are saying it is agriculture versus industry but we are saying it is agriculture and industry that is the need of the hour. We do need land for industries but the Opposition is saying that we are grabbing lands forcibly from the farmers. This is a lie," said Buddha.
The CM said that his government was very much serious about the compensation package for the farmers and the sharecroppers whose lands were being taken for industries. "We will pay for the land according to the market rate. We will also give additional 30 per cent money. We will take care about the rehabilitation of the families and studies for the children. This is my responsibility and the duty of my government," Buddha said amidst huge applause.
Speaking in the back-to-back Sunday meeting outside Nandigram (Mamata held her meeting at Nandigram on February 4), Buddha said unless we have industries, Bengal in future would fail to provide employment to its own educated youth.
"So Nandigram please understand the reality. And to my Opposition I will say please stop making trouble. People will understand the truth and give you a lesson in the forthcoming Panchayat elections," argued Buddha.