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Agriculture or industry? Singur farmers divided

Debate rages in Singur over industry or agriculture. And the chorus in favour of industry is getting louder.

kolkata Updated: Sep 09, 2016 10:54 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
The state government has left the Nano factory shed untouched, though it has initiated the process of land return on war footing. (Ashok Nath Dey/HT Photo)

After the victory, the introspection. The Supreme Court verdict gave Singur’s land-losers enough reason to cheer, but the reality is only beginning to sink in. And as the Hooghly district administration prepares to return the land to its owners, in the mind of the farmers, the debate rages: would they be better off by opting for industry than agriculture? And the chorus in favour of industry is getting louder.

Debashish Ghosh and Biswajit Das, who are in their late teens, are from families that opposed the forcible acquisition at Khaser Bheri village. While their parents, and most of the elderly people of the area, celebrated the August 31 apex court verdict, both the boys have found little to rejoice.

“My parents may be happy, but I am not going to get back to farming. I would have been happier had an industry come up in Singur,” Biswajit Das, who is a student of Chandernagore government college, told HT.

Sensing the sentiment of many locals, two prominent faces of the anti-land acquisition movement in Singur — Manik Das and Mahadeb Das — told HT that they would now ask senior leaders of Trinamool Congress to welcome anyone willing to set up an industry.

While most of those who parted with their land willingly are not going to return to agriculture, several ‘unwilling’ land-losers at Beraberi, Khaser

Read: SC scraps Singur land deal for Nano plant, asks Bengal govt to take possession

Bheri, Singher Bheri and Gopalnagar said that it will be difficult for many of the elderly to get back to cultivation because they have not farmed for 10 years. “You can say we have forgotten our earlier profession,” septuagenarian Nabakumar Das, a resident of Bajemelia, said. Moreover, many farmers are wondering whether the land that has been filled with fly ash and concrete will ever be cultivable.

There are also grievances against those who supported the previous Left Front government in acquiring land but will also get back their land and keep the money that they got as compensation. “It was a moment of joy when we first heard of the Supreme Court verdict. But now, the reality has begun sinking in. Those who sided with the previous regime are being treated just like us,” Deepali Dhara, a homemaker from Beraberi Purbapara, told HT.

Read: Grand dais for Mamata’s ‘victory rally’ in Singur

“I never wanted the land back. I have no interest in going back to farming. That was why I willingly parted with it. I still want an industry here,” said Dwarik Ghosh, who runs a fast-food joint at Beraberi bazaar. Both his daughters are studying in engineering colleges.

To douse the fire raging among ‘unwilling’ land-losers — the Trinamool’s support base in Singur — leaders of the Krishi Jami Raksha Committee campaigned at Beraberi on September 2, asking the anti-acquisition activists to be magnanimous and accept the fact that every popular movement benefits more people than those who fought for it. Regardless of such tall talk, the ‘unwilling’ farmers are mounting pressure on the government to ensure they get a deal better than those who aided forcible land acquisition.

First Published: Sep 09, 2016 10:54 IST