A fortnight after JSW announced that it has put its proposed steel-cum-power plant at Salboni on hold, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said the group has decided to surrender the 294 acres purchased directly from farmers for the project.
“The Jindal Group has communicated to Finance Minister Amit Mitra that it desires to hand over the land acquired from the farmers. It said it would not take back the money given to the farmers while acquiring the land,” Mamata told mediapersons at Nabanna.
Claiming that since the plant was not coming up, the farmers who gave their land sought its return, she said, “The major part of the land of the proposed project, which was taken by the company from the government, is still with them. We will see what they do with it in future.” The total land in the possession of Jindal group for the project was 4,300 acres, out of which, 294 acres were purchased from farmers. Mamata added that the government will facilitate the distribution of 294 acres of land among farmers at Shalboni in West Midnapore. “A committee has been formed under the district magistrate of West Midnapore for distribution of the land among farmers. I hope others will follow the example,’’ Mamata said with obvious reference to the Tatas, who were given 1,000 acres of land for their small car project at Singur. Describing Jindal’s decision to return the land to the farmers as a “bold” move, she said, “We have been talking of the same thing in respect of Singur”.
On December 1, JSW Chairman and Managing Director Sajjan Jindal had said the company has put the Rs 35,000-crore project at Salboni on “hold” over uncertainty of raw material linkages. JSW Bengal currently do not have either coal or iron ore linkages for the Salboni project. The MoU for the project was signed in 2007 when the Left Front government was in power in the state.
With PTI inputs