The West Bengal government has assured the railways of all support if it builds a coach factory on the aborted Tata Motors’ Nano project land in Singur.
Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakravarty wrote a letter to Railway Board Chairman S.S. Khurana on Monday that the state would help in transferring the land earlier leased out to the Tatas.
The state leased out 997 acres to the Tatas for 90 years after acquiring land from farmers in Singur in Hooghly district, about 40 km north of Kolkata.
But the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, now the Union Railway Minister, began an agitation against the manner of land acquisition.
Finally, in October 2008, Tata group chairman Ratan Tata announced that the company was being forced to shift the Nano project to Sanand in Gujarat.
But the land still remains with the Tatas. In September 2009, Ratan Tata said the company would return the land against a compensation of Rs 1,500- crore (Rs 15 billion) that the company had invested in Singur.
Chakravarty did not clarify on Tuesday whether the government was negotiating with the Tatas for the land. A Tata spokesperson refused to confirm any negotiation, saying, “We'll deal with the government directly on this issue.”
Earlier in November 2009, the state government showed the Singur land to the public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals (Bhel) for setting up a thermal power plant. BHEL, however, opted out of Singur.
The state government’s assurance of help to the Railway Board comes after Bhel’s rejection.