Inability to return 400 acres of the Nano plot to unwilling farmers of Singur remained her biggest regret, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday during the celebrations of her first anniversary in power.
“We have already acquired the land. But the case is sub-judice, and hence the land could not be returned to the farmers. This is my biggest dissatisfaction. We will return the land as soon as the verdict is delivered,” she said.
The case is being heard at the Calcutta high court.
Her statement stood out against the backdrop of announcements by the chief minister that the government had accomplished in 10 months what could be achieved only in 10 years.
She said the government would pay Rs. 1,000 to every poor land-losing family in Singur each month till it could return the land.
However, the chief minister did not say whom the government would classify as “poor”.
“Please try to keep Bengal on the move. Don’t shut it down,” she remarked in an indirect reference to political parties, urging them not to call bandhs.
The chief minister also asked state food and supplies minister Jyotipriyo Mullick to find out whether it was feasible to provide Singur farmers rice at R2 per kg every month.
Similar schemes had been announced for the villagers living in the Jangalmahal area.
Banerjee also said the government was planning to tie up with universities in the UK to improve English-speaking skills of people in rural West Bengal. The chief minister also highlighted the financial distress of the state.
Governor MK Narayanan, who spoke before the chief minister, described the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 (to return the land to unwilling farmers) as an outstanding achievement of the new government.
The government is setting up a medicine bank to store life-saving drugs for patients suffering from cancer and other serious diseases.
Congress blasts land policy
Just after CM Mamata Banerjee spoke of the achievements of her government over the past year, her Congress allies lambasted her, emphasising her allegedly faulty land policy and the state’s law-and-order situation.
“To attract industry you need land. It isn’t acceptable that industrialists will select land. The government should acquire land on its own. We can only say the Congress will support the government’s step on industrialisation in every possible way,” Bengal Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya said.
He urged the CM to call an all-party meeting with members of different chambers of commerce in the state to draw up a blueprint for industrialisation in West Bengal.