Thursday, February 21, 2008

Singur: CPI(M)'s peasant wing seeks better deal for farmers

AOL India Editorial
Last Updated: August 22, 2007 14:55:21
Singur/Nandigram (WB), Feb 17 (PTI): With the CPI(M) struggling to convince farmers in West Bengal to accept acquisition of agricultural land for industrialisation, the party’s peasant wing has suggested offering a better compensation package to share-croppers.

The registered share-croppers should be given a better compensation including crop compensation for a year besides what they have been paid, Dibakar Das, a Krishak Sabha leader from Singur told PTI.

He also said the compensation rate should be fixed by the state Agriculture Department.

The State government has already acquired a total of 997 acres at Singur for the Tata Motors' small car project evoking violent protests from farmers, mainly share-croppers and landless labourers.

The share-croppers, affected by the land acquisition at Singur, have been given 25 per cent of the market value of the land, besides 10 per cent solatium and 12.5 per cent interest, by the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, however, has a bigger problem at hand at Nandigram in East Midnapur district, where rumours about land acquisition led to violent clashes. This forced the Chief Minister to announce that no land would be acquired without the consent of farmers.

Ilyas Muhammad, CPI MLA from Nandigram, a partner in the ruling Left Front, said that 90 per cent of the people were against land acquisition there.

"Technology-oriented industry will provide no employment to farmers at Nandigram. It will in fact compound the situation and lead to more unemployment," Muhammad, whose party has criticised the Bhattacharjee government's land acquisition, said.

The people, including share-croppers were of the view that any industry set up there should be agro-based and not technology-oriented, Muhammed said.

The state government has already committed to the Salim group of Indonesia 22,000 acres in East Midnapur district for setting up a multi-product SEZ and a chemical hub.

The state government, however, was moving cautiously after six people were killed in Nandigram in the first week of January in violent clashes, following an advertisement identifying the areas where the SEZ and chemical hub might be set up.

In a damage control exercise, the Chief Minister has undertaken trips to the affected district explaining to the people that industry was necessary for development. At the same time, CPI(M), the bigger partner in the Front, is also holding talks with smaller partners like CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP, to make them toe the line on the ticklish issue. PTI