Friday, July 18, 2008

Official Nandigram homeless count: 5371

Nandi homeless count: 5371

Calcutta, July 17: Over 5,000 people have been rendered homeless in Nandigram in clashes since January last year, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said in the Assembly today.

Reeling off figures, possibly the first official count of those displaced in the East Midnapore trouble zone, the chief minister put the number of homeless at 5,371.

“Altogether, 208 political clashes took place in Bengal between January 1, 2007 and January 31, 2008. The number of Nandigram deaths was 29,” Bhattacharjee said, replying to a question from the Congress’s Ajoy De about the clashes in the state over the past year.

In Nandigram, the dead included one policeman and 17 CPM supporters, he said, adding Trinamul and other parties lost six activists each. The figure of 29 includes the 14 deaths that occurred during the police firing of March 14, 2007.

The families of those killed in the firing have been given compensation in accordance with the order of Calcutta High Court, Bhattacharjee said. A sum of Rs 1 crore was released from the chief minister’s relief fund, of which Rs 74 lakh has been disbursed to the families, he added.

The Nandigram trouble began in January last year when the Haldia Development Authority issued a notice to acquire land for a planned chemical hub in Kalicharanpur village. The notice was withdrawn after protests.

The chief minister said the CRPF had been withdrawn as “the situation has improved” and the focus is on political dialogues. “Though we had deployed the CRPF, the force was withdrawn as the situation has improved. We are stressing more on political dialogue to restore complete normality in Nandigram.”

Responding to a question on police strength, the chief minister said 12,395 posts were vacant but ruled out an increase in the budget for recruitment.