We are not anti-Tata: WB govt

We are not anti-Tata: WB govt

Contesting the Tata Motors Ltd prayer that the Singur Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 be declared unconstitutional, senior counsel for the government Saktinath Mukherjee submitted before Justice Saumitra Pal that the government was answerable to the people as 1000 acres of fertile land was taken away, but not used for the purpose it was acquired for.

Mukherjee submitted that in a letter dated September 28, 2010, TML had told West Bengal Infrastructure Development Corporation (WBIDC), the state nodal agency, that it had shifted the Nano car plant to Gujarat and on their future plan for the land at Singur they stated their inability to give any assurance.

There was nothing against the Tatas, but the state was only concerned about generating employment for which the land had been acquired and leased out to TML, he stated. Mukherjee pleaded that the only issue was returning 400 acre to unwilling farmers, while TML was welcome to set up the plant in the remaining 600 acre, but it did not happen.

Noting that nobody asked TML to go away from the state, he said that the government was not against industrialisation, but was pro-farmer.

Mukherjee said that Singur and Nandigram had taught that farmers must have a say over their land and this was happening in other parts of the country like Orissa and Uttar Pradesh.

He submitted that West Bengal government was the pioneer on the issue and no other state had given credit to farmer demands. The lease to TML had become zero value as they did not utilise it for the specific purpose that the government leased the land to them and within the specific period of time and as such the government enacted the law and took it back.

Government pleader Ashok Kumar Banerjee submitted that TML was still welcome to set up industry on 600 acre. He submitted that TML had violated the lease clauses by not setting up the industry within three years and as such there was nothing wrong in taking back the land of which the government was the owner.

He prayed that the petition by TML, which challenged the validity of the Singur Act 2011, be rejected. Of the total 997.97 acres acquired by the government in 2007, TML was leased out 645 acres while the remaining was for vendors and other purposes.

Yesterday the high court had rejected the TML prayer for a stay on distribution of land to 'unwilling' farmers. The matter would be taken up for hearing again tomorrow.

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