Buddha, Mamata put Nano back on track
The West Bengal Govt will form a committee within a week to look into the affected farmers' demands and till then the construction of the ancillary units will be on hold. HT Correspondentreports. See graphics: All in a daykolkata Updated: Sep 08, 2008 11:37 IST
Peace returned to Singur late Sunday night, as Governor Gopal Krishan Gandhi stood flanked by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Mamata Banerjee and announced the crisis was over.
<b1>Gandhi read out a statement saying farmers who had not accepted compensation for land acquired from them by the government will be given land within the Nano project area and outside it.
A committee would be set up to look at the demand of these farmers and to identify the land needed to compensate them. It has only a week to finish. Till then, work will remain suspended in the ancillary units.
Mamata left for Singur shortly to announce the end of her agitation.
But would Nano stay? There was no word from Tata Motors till the filing of this report. For a moment on Sunday, it nearly didn’t happen.
The two bitterest of political foes met — their first face-to-face meeting in eight years — Sunday in the presence of the governor and came out smiling. The word went out like a lightning: deal had been struck.
News channels went on air with the breaking story: Singur Solved. And then within a few minutes, a punctuation mark appeared in the heading: Singur Solved? That pretty much told the story.
Later in the evening, word came of another meeting, with several ministers "rushing" to the governor’s house, led by the chief minister.
What happened? Mamata was reportedly not happy with the size of the land she had won for the farmers within the Nano project area. She also wanted the decision on ancillary units to be left to a special committee.
Raj Bhavan was the focus of endless meetings on a rain-drenched Sunday. The first one to arrive was the chief minister at about 11 am. This meeting lasted an hour.
The next in was the Trinamool leader, who came at 3 pm. After an hour, they were joined by the chief minister, who left after a while for the CPI(M) headquarters at Alimuddin Street. Mamata stayed back at Raj Bhavan.
It had then seemed that the meetings had gone off well. Word went around that the governor would make a pronouncement at a news conference in about 30 minutes. That never happened, and finally it was called off.
Hindustan Times has been told by sources that the government has offered Mamata 40 acres of land, which belongs to the West Bengal Development Corporation, within the project area.
Another 50 acres was offered outside the project area when Mamata kept on demanding more land inside the project area. The chief minister argued that that was not possible without consulting Tata Motors.
And that, if forced, the Tatas may leave.
It was then decided that a four-member committee would be formed with members from the state government and local Trinamool Congress representatives to look for more land outside the project area.
The committee would also look into the rehabilitation package for the affected farmers. And then Mamata upped the ante asking for suspension of work in the area marked out for the ancillary units till the committee gave its report.
While the Trinamool leader and the chief minister disagreed on some issues, both were in a mood to give Nano a chance. To that end, Mamata gave up her demand of 400 acres within the plant site for the farmers.
And Buddha agreed to reconsider the rehabilitation package.