A day after stating there was nothing wrong in acquiring agricultural land for industry, visiting Nobel laureate Mohammed Yunus on Monday said it should be done with full respect to the farmers' wishes and making them involved in the entire development process.
"You cannot move on the development path by ignoring the contribution of the farmers. So the entire process has to be in a satisfactory manner and by protecting their (farmers') interests," Yunus said in Kolkata. West Bengal is witnessing unrest over farmland acquisition in Singur and Nandigram where large industries are slated to come up on fertile land.
"I cannot make specific comments because I am not aware of the entire situation here but agricultural land has to be taken for industry. I cannot tell you the alternatives here without knowing the facts fully," the noted Bangladeshi economist told a press conference.
"I did not know that the topic is so explosive here. I have sort of stepped on a minefield as I realise from today's newspaper," Yunus said in a lighter vein.
India's policy of special economic zones (SEZs), facing flak of late over farmland acquisition, has found a supporter in Yunus with the Grameen Bank founder saying on Sunday that industrialisation was necessary for progress.
"Agricultural land has to be acquired for industry. We will lag behind without industry," he said on Sunday on arrival at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International airport. He was received by West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta.
On his first visit to Kolkata since winning the Nobel Peace Prize last year, Yunus was felicitated by the city-based Chattogram Parishad at Bijoygarh's Niranjan Sadan auditorium in south Kolkata in the evening, even as a mammoth crowd of enthusiasts waited to catch a glimpse of him.