Singur verdict may be a setback for ongoing industries in Bengal, fear industrialists and bureaucrats | Kolkata - Hindustan Times
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Singur verdict may be a setback for ongoing industries in Bengal, fear industrialists and bureaucrats

Hindustan Times | BySubhendu Maiti and Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri, Kolkata
Aug 31, 2016 08:38 PM IST

After she became the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee has faced a dilemma on the land question -while her uncompromising anti-acquisition stand has earned her rich political dividends, the same stand has proved to be counterproductive in attracting investments.

The Supreme Court ‘s verdict striking down the land acquisition by the Buddahdeb Bhattacharjee administration might be of supreme satisfaction to chief minister Mamata Banerjee, but it may not augur well for her drive to seek investments for the state, investors and bureaucrats in the city.

A file photo of the agitation in Singur.(Ashok Nath Dey/HT Photo)
A file photo of the agitation in Singur.(Ashok Nath Dey/HT Photo)

West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), the nodal body promoting industry, has already acquired several thousand acres of land for setting up a few industrial parks in Kharagpore, Raghunathpur, Naihati, Uluberia, Sankrail, Panagarh, Barjora etc where different companies are supposed to invest.

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WBIDC also acquired around 1,800 acres for setting up of an airport and a township in Andal in Burdwan district.

Read: Mamata describes the Singur acquisition as a historic suicide

“All these projects may face legal complications if farmers who have given their land can move court following the apex court verdict against the acquisition process,” said a senior bureaucrat who was earlier with the WBIDC.

After she became the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee has faced a dilemma on the land question -- while her uncompromising anti-acquisition stand has earned her rich political dividends, the same stand has proved to be counterproductive in attracting investments. Many industrialists have tended to view Bengal as a state where obtaining land for projects is a difficult and sensitive subject.

Many industrialists have tended to view Bengal as a state where obtaining land for projects is a difficult and sensitive subject. (Subhendu Ghosh/HT Photo)
Many industrialists have tended to view Bengal as a state where obtaining land for projects is a difficult and sensitive subject. (Subhendu Ghosh/HT Photo)

“Farmers will refer to Wednesday’s verdict as a historic precedence and demand a return of the land acquired for different industries. Apart from Bengal no other states in the country face such militant oppositions against acquisition of land for industry purposes,” a representative of a prominent chamber of commerce rued.

A Tata Motors statement made no comments on the judgement except pointing out that the acquisition was made by the state government, before it was leased to Tata Motors. “Our case relating to Singur Act of 2011, is yet to be heard by the Supreme Court. We will study today’s judgement in detail before commenting further on the same,” a spokesperson said.

Read: Song, dance and sweets mark Singur’s victory celebrations

The investor community in Bengal is also quite skeptical about the impact of the verdict on the industrialisation drive.

While congratulating the West Bengal chief minister for the apex court verdict, the MCC Chamber of Commerce president, Monish Goenka said that the state government should come out with an alternative way to attract investment.

“The state is in need of investment and we hope that the West Bengal government will devise a way to attract investment in Singur,” said Goenka.

Read: SC verdict on Singur ‘landmark victory’: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

Debeshis Som, former managing director of WBIDC, refused comment though the entire land was acquired by the WBIDC during his regime as the corporation MD. “I won’t comment on the court verdict,” Som said.

“I do not know what purpose of the farmers will be served by returning a piece of land that was developed for an industrial unit,” he felt.

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