Farming will resume in Singur’s demolished Nano plant site after 10 years with the cultivation of mustard when chief minister Mamata Banerjee ceremoniously hands over 21 plots (6.71 acres) to their original owners today.
The rest of the plots will be handed over in phases over the next 10 days.
The chief minister will be handing over physical possession of land and mustard seeds from a dais erected besides the plots that have been demarcated, tilled and made cultivable. Ironically, farming will start even as the last of the Nano plant structures – the main factory shed – is still being pulled down.
The last crop on this land was potato harvested in November 2006, a month before huge contingents of state police took possession of the 997.11 acre land plot amid violent protests from hundreds of farmers. In July 2006, Mamata Banerjee had sown potato on this land, defying orders from the Left Front government not to carry on agricultural activities anymore as the land had to be handed over to Tata Motors.
As the government started countdown to the momentous handing over of the plots on Thursday, farmers Naresh Ghosh, Naba Kumar Ghosh, Nilkantha Ghosh and Ganesh Koley, unwilling land-losers who were bent on taking their land back from the Nano plant were apprehensive of the prospect of farming. They pointed out that the irrigation channels no longer exist and they were unsure of the character of soil used for filling the land.
“Of course we are happy to get the land back. We’ll experimentally start farming mustard and will follow it up with oil seeds. I guess it’s going to take nearly two years for the land to be ready for growing majors crops like rice and potato,” said Jugal Kishore Ghosh, one of the 28 land owners whom the chief minister will hand over possession of land along with mustard seeds.
Ghosh will get back 2.66 acres of land that went inside the Nano plant plot.
Outside the compound, heaps of the scrap from Nano plant were stacked along the Durgapur Expressway (NH2) symbolising dashed dreams of industrialisation.
To ensure farming starts from Thursday itself, a mini-deep tube-well was installed at Gopalnagar Ghosh Para – where the chief minister will hand over the land plots – on Wednesday itself. “It will start functioning from Thursday morning,” an official of the state agriculture department told HT.
The government is installing 50 mini-deep tube-wells across the 997.11 acre land plot for irrigation. It will also provide the land owners with a one-time aid of Rs 10,000, besides distribution of organic fertilisers.
“Officers from the agriculture department have advised us to cultivate crops like mustard and oil seeds to increase land fertility before sowing paddy or potato,” said Naresh Ghosh. They also plan to grow vegetables.
Other villagers, however, said that it will take time for them to understand the real nature of the slopes, which determine the flow of irrigation water.
“Farming will resume on Thursday but mostly on experimental basis. Full-fledged farming is unlikely to resume before two years,” Basanta Manna of Khaser Bheri, who has already investigated his plot, told HT.
Several farmers went inside on Wednesday to have a look at their own plots.