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Monday, 8 September 2008

Singur stalemate ends

— Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

ACCORD REACHED: West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee (right) and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee during a press conference at the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata on Sunday.

KOLKATA: The stalemate over acquisition of land for the Tata Motors project at Singur ended here late on Sunday night, following two rounds of discussions between Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. Between the two rounds there was anxiety for some time over the outcome following a fresh demand reportedly by Ms. Banerjee.

The 15-day siege by the Trinamool Congress and its allies outside the project site demanding that land acquired from “unwilling farmers” be handed back, will be lifted. Any construction in the vendor’s park will remain suspended for a week by which time a committee will ascertain the scope and set the modalities to compensate — with maximum land possible within the project area and adjacent to it — those farmers who have so far refused any compensation from the authorities.

Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who presided over the talks, announced the decision. The Chief Minister and Ms. Banerjee were present.

The second round of talks hurriedly fixed for late in the evening was preceded by anxiety over the progress of the negotiations when Ms. Banerjee, reportedly raised a fresh demand calling for suspension of work in the vendor park till the issue of handing over land was determined.

This came moments after the earlier discussions with the Chief Minister had seemingly ended on a positive note and a tentative decision taken to lift the siege on Monday morning .

Accompanying the Chief Minister in the second round were the State’s Industries Minister, Nirupam Sen, and the Panchayat Minister, Surya Kanta Mishra.

The Chief Minister, who was attending a meeting of the ruling Left Front, left again for Raj Bhavan for a meeting with Ms Banerjee on being informed of the latter’s change in stand.

The hectic parleying that continued for most of the day began with discussions between Mr. Bhattacharjee and the Governor in the morning. Shortly after, Ms. Banerjee was invited by the Governor for a separate round of talks held after the latter sent a message to her stating that the State government had agreed to consider the proposal of providing land from both within and outside the project area.

Later in the afternoon, following a request by the Governor, the Chief Minister joined in talks with Ms. Banerjee.

An arrangement on a land-based rehabilitation scheme for land-losers was reportedly agreed upon, as was the setting up of a committee representing the two sides that would determine the quantum of land to be given.

Tata Motors authorities announced suspension of work at the site on September 2 in view of the continued confrontation and agitation.

Source : The Hindu

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