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Tata's Telco project in trouble

Govt has found that 100 acres of the Kharagpur site has land which belongs to the tribals, reports Romita Datta.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2007 03:31 IST

After Singur, the Tata company’s second major project in the state - Telco’s heavy earth equipment factory at Kharagpur near Guptamani in West Midnapore district, on a supposedly 1,280 acres of arid area, is facing a major hitch.

Reason: The government has discovered a 100 acres of tribal village within the proposed factory site. It appears that the state administration rushed into land acquisition without proper land survey, without even going to the spot.

After slapping acquisition notice (Section 4) in the region, the administration has suddenly discovered that there is a tribal village, comprising some 50 odd tribal families, at Baradiha mouza, within the heart of the land, where the proposed factory is set to come up.

About 1,280 acres of land would have to be acquired for the project and the tribal village approximately cover 100 acres, where four acres comprise homesteads.

The discovery has embarrassed the district administration to such an extent and they have decided to stall the acquisition as of now, till problems were sorted out.

The land acquisition officers have been asked to work out on a number of possibilities--- if the village could be left untouched, and in case it cannot be avoided how the tribals could be rehabilitated and accommodated.

The government was simultaneously working on how to compensate the tribals by ensuring employment to at least one member of the family and rehabilitating them at better place.

Till then, the administration has decided to withhold the other sections of acquisition.

However, with experiences of Nandigram still fresh in the mind and pressure groups forming within the tribals, the district administration has advised the state government to leave the 100 acres of tribal hamlet untouched. In fact, apart from 4acres of homesteads, the rest constitute property and assets of the tribals.

The district administration has also suggested building up a separate road, entry and exit points for the tribals within the complex of the site, so as not to inconvenience the project or the tribals.

District Magistrate of West Midnapore, Prabir Banerjee, said that officials are working on the land acquisition, without disturbing the tribals.

Meanwhile for acquisition of 1280 acres of land for Telco’s factory, the requiring body, which is WBIDC in this case, is supposed to pay Rs 80 crores for the land. Out of this total amount, about 50% or Rs 40crores is supposed to be coughed up at the time of slapping section 4 notice.

Despite the WBIDC shelling out only Rs 25 crores out of Rs 40 crores, the land and land reforms did not object. This was because there was an obvious hurry to complete acquisition and hand over the land to Telco. However, whether Telco would agree to accommodate the tribals within its factory site is still not clear.

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First Published: Jan 31, 2007 03:31 IST