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Singur makes Buddha wiser

The ongoing controversy over the small-car factory in Singur is forcing the Left Front government to rethink its strategy of land acquisition, reports Aloke Banerjee.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2006 01:31 IST

The ongoing controversy over the small-car factory in Singur is forcing the Left Front government to rethink its strategy of land acquisition to set up industries and infrastructure in Bengal in the future.

I am ready for talks with Mamata anytime, any place because we must reach a consensus. But I cannot say ‘go back’ (to Tata Motors). I cannot tell Ratan Tata - ‘Sorry, I cannot give you land at Singur...’ -- Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has decided to proceed with caution and discuss it with other Left Front partners of the CPI-M, the Opposition as well as with his own party before acquiring land for both the projects of the Indonesia-based Salim Group — the 107 km expressway between Raichak and Barasat, and the Special Economic Zone in Nandigram.

“I will not proceed on the Salim Group projects till there is adequate debate on the land acquisition issue in the Left Front and with the Opposition parties,” the chief minister told a delegation of CPI leaders on Thursday. The CPI welcomed the chief minister’s stand in the state secretariat meeting on Friday. “At the moment, I have three major projects in mind, which are non-controversial,” the chief minister said. He explained that his government would pursue only the steel plant project of the Jindal group in Salboni, the Videocon project in Siliguri and the foundry park in Jagatballavpur.

Even setting up SEZs in the state would be restricted from now on, the chief minister said. Instead of seven SEZs, which have received formal go-ahead and 17 more, which were accepted in principle, there will be four special economic zones in the state now. He, however, did not specify which SEZs would finally see the light of the day in Bengal. Redrawing the strategy of land acquisition in Bengal will begin from January 1 — the day the CPI-M’s four-day politburo and central committee meetings begin in Kolkata.

With Singur becoming a national issue and the party beginning to face awkward questions in all other states, the CPI-M politburo and the central committee will try to devise a formula for the Bengal government, which will effectively address the doubts that the largest communist party in the country is pursuing double standards — resisting land acquisition in non-Left-ruled states while acquiring agricultural land in its home turf.

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First Published: Dec 27, 2006 01:31 IST