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Tata deal exposes BJP's double standard

The BJP is not only backing the Trinamool in the fight against Tata, but also earmarking 6,000 acres in Chhattisgarh for itself, reports Ejaz Kaiser.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2006 23:44 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party, it seems is 'running with the hare and hunting with the hounds', if its role in supporting firebrand Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee in opposing the Singur land deal in West Bengal against the Tatas and on the other hand earmarking over 6,000 acres of land in tribal Chhattisgarh where it is ruling, to the Tatas is any indication.

However, things are not all hunky dory as the tribals in Lohandiguda block in Bastar are putting up stiff resistance in giving their land to the Tatas, though the Raman Singh BJP government claims that villagers had passed a resolution in the Gram Sabha for land acquisition for the project.

Bastar district collector GS Mishra told Hindustan Times that the Gram Sabha unanimously passed a resolution mandatory under the Panchayat Raj Act and now there is no impediment to acquire land for proposed Tata steel project in Bastar.

However the process apparently appears to have collapsed after the villagers in Lohandiguda alleged that votes in Gram Sabha to yield land to Tata were wrongly obtained.

“Why should I give up my agricultural land which is the source of my livelihood since generations?” asked a tribal Keshu Markam.

Tata Steel plans to invest Rs 10,000 crore to set up a 5 million tonnes per annum capacity steel plant over a 6,000-acre site covering 10 villages in Bastar district. The Chhattisgarh government signed a MoU with Tata steel on June 4, 2005.

The villagers have submitted 13 demands to the state government for approval before they give away their agricultural land. "The demands are difficult to accept," opined a senior state government official. One of the demands by the villagers comprising ‘land for the land’ has already been rejected by the state government.

The president of Akhil Bhartiya Adivasi Mahasabha Manish Kunjam told HT that not a single tribal is willing to part their land for the proposed Tata project. "The Gram Sabha was forced to pass the resolution for land acquisition under threat," alleged Kunjam.

He said that major portion of the land are agricultural rich land and will not be given by villagers for Tata steel project, come what may.

First Published: Dec 29, 2006 23:44 IST