Even as West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is drawing flak for the proposed car-manufacturing unit in Singur, his Kerala counterpart VS Achuthanandan on Monday announced a major land acquisition for the Technocity coming up near Thiruvananthapuram.
“We will acquire 500 acres of land for Technocity under the fast track scheme,” he told newsmen after the cabinet meeting. Interestingly, when the United Democratic Front government had floated this idea, the CPI(M) had opposed it strongly, saying it would lead to displacement of many families. The youth wing of the CPI(M), the Democratic Youth Federation of India, had even disrupted a meeting called to discuss the project, alleging the powerful real estate lobby had hijacked the project.
Asked if this was the same project initiated by the previous government, Achuthanandan evaded a direct reply by saying the new IT and biotech park would come up near the existing Technopark.
“It is sad that while in opposition, they don’t allow any project to come up here but once in power, they implement the same project after cosmetic changes. The party should change this double standard in the larger interest of the state,” former chief minister Oommen Chandy said. According to the previous Congress government, the proposed Rs 50-billion Technocity was to house IT and biotechnology companies, a residential complex, schools and other infrastructure. The state government was to provide Rs 250 million and another Rs 750 million as loans for Technocity to buy the land.
However, the chief minister’s political secretary Balagopalan begged to differ. “We never opposed the project. We were against large-scale displacement. We have avoided thickly populated areas to ensure minimum displacement,” he claimed.