If you want to set up a factory in West Bengal, you’ll have to acquire the land yourself. The state government will not do it for you.
Announcing this in the Assembly on Thursday, West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said: “The state government will not forcefully acquire any land from people.”
The new policy follows the electoral drubbing suffered by the ruling Left Front in the recent Lok Sabha elections and the municipal polls that followed.
Senior Left leaders have blamed the defeats on the government’s decision to forcibly acquire thousands of acres of farmland in Nandigram and Singur for a chemical hub and the Tata Nano factory, respectively.
The former, in particular, led to a pitched battle between farmers and police-backed CPI(M) cadres that led to 15 deaths, and a statewide agitation that cost the Left Front much of its rural support base.
Dasgupta said all industrialists should, from now on, find and buy their own land directly from landowners.
This is the first time the state has announced its future land policy on the floor of the assembly.
The first casualty of this new policy is the proposed road link between Barasat, 35 km east of Kolkata, and Raichak, 60 km south of the city.
Indonesia’s Salim Group was to build this road for which the government had agreed to acquire land from farmers.
“The government does not wish to continue with this project anymore. We do not feel that this project is viable right now,” Dasgupta clarified. He did not explain why the project was not viable.
There had been violent protests over land acquisition soon after the project was announced.
Dasgupta clarified: “If anyone gets stuck while buying land, then that particular industrialist can approach the government for help. The government then might negotiate for that particular parcel of land.”
He added that the state government is preparing a land bank at a cost of Rs 500 crore. Various industry bodies in the state have welcomed the government’s announcement.