400 acres to be returned to Singur farmers: Mamata

Announcing the decision taken at its first cabinet meeting at a media conference in the state secretariat, Banerjee said the Tatas were free to set up a factory in the remaining around 600 acres in the Hooghly district rural belt.

"The cabinet decision is to return 400 acres to farmers from whom land had been taken against their will. If the Tatas are interested in investing, they can set up the factory in the remaining 600 acres," Banerjee said hours after being sworn in as the state's first woman chief minister.

Asked whether it was possible legally to return land once acquired, she replied: "You don’t have to think about that. The government has taken a decision. The government will do everything legally."

Asked whether she would invite the Tatas to invest in Bengal, she said: "I think they will invite themselves to Bengal to invest. Everybody is welcome to come to Bengal".
She avoided a query as to whether she could give a deadline for returning the 400 acres. “We have just started and you are asking for a deadline. I have given you a boundary line,” Banerjee quipped.

Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, decimated in the 2006 Assembly polls, saw its political graph climb again after it spearheaded a peasants agitation against the state government's acquisition of land for the Nano project demanding that 400 acres out of a total 997.11 acres be returned to farmers as it was taken against "their will".

Faced with the sustained and intense protests, the Tata Motors shifted the plant to Sanand in Gujarat. The agitation helped in turning the fortunes for Trinamool, which in later years went from strength to strength to unseat the 34-year-old Left front government in the recent assembly elections and take over power in alliance with the Congress.

Tata Motors still holds the lease of the factory.Trinamool had then made a strong pitch for bringing into public domain the deal signed between Tata Motors and the state government.

"I have told my officials to show me the deal struck with the Tatas. We are transparent. Let me see the details," Banerjee said to queries whether she will make the deal public.

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