What next in Singur? Mamata govt leaves tricky choice to farmers

But they can’t make up their minds whether to farm, sell or give up their land to industry.

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal | Kolkata | Updated: September 8, 2016 9:07 am
 singur, singur verdict, supreme court, tata motors, singur farmers, singur land dispute, land fertility, singur land fertility, improve land fertility, electricity to farmers, singur electricity, what next in singur, west bengal government, purnendu bose, mamata banerjee, singur agriculture, indian express news, india news This power substation was meant to feed the car factory in Singur. On Wednesday, work started to dismantle it. Source: Partha Paul

Days after the Supreme Court judgment striking down the acquisition of land for Tata Motors’ car factory in Singur, the government is trying to prepare 997-acre plot for return to its original owners. But with the land’s agricultural potential still under a question mark, Agriculture Minister Purnendu Bose said its fate would be “ultimately decided by the people”, while not ruling out the possibility of a mass vote at Mamata Banerjee’s September 14 rally.

Asked if there was no question of industry at Singur, Bose said, “Our instructions are to follow the mandate given to us by the Supreme Court, to the letter. At present, we are trying to return the land to the farmers within the time-frame given to us and things look hopeful. But as far as the fate of Singur is concerned, I can say this much — Mamata Banerjee will not do anything without consulting the people. The fate of Singur will be decided by the common people.”

Bose joined a queue of ministers who have visited the site, while Mamata is scouting for potential investors in Germany. “I will monitor everything,” she had said before leaving. On Wednesday, Bose said about 300 acres had been surveyed. “We are trying to figure out the exact condition of the land. Dampness in the area is a concern. Today, I have come with a team of scientists who will help us understand the situation.”

Land in Singur was once said to have been the most fertile in the state and the main challenge for the government is to attempt and recreate that situation. But in the last 10 years, the survey soon found, the area has been taken over by wild grass and bush that have depleted the nutrients in the soil. Moreover, at least “two or three feet fly ash and sand were dumped to the site to raise the land level” while the top soil, “most important for cultivation”, has been damaged beyond repair, said a government official, adding that the land has “also been compacted by machines”.

With doubts over fertility, many farmers who had been unwilling to part with their land are now undecided. Haradhan Baghi said, “We were unwilling to part with our land. In the last 10 years, we have suffered greatly. Though the government has helped us, a farmer without his land is nothing. And the land that we will get back is no longer the same. Perhaps it would be better if an industry were here, so we could have some other employment.”

Bose said, “In our state, our chief minister’s vision is that industry and agriculture must go hand in hand, like siblings. That is what we’ll aim to achieve.”

But Singur farmers are divided, some wanting their land back for farming, others looking to sell their land to the highest bidder, and still others wishing for industry.

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  1. Aschutosch Somwanshey
    Sep 8, 2016 at 6:07 am
    A win-win situation that can happen only Marxland. The farmers first got the compensation now they are getting their farmland back. The CM wants the people should decide. So if one farmer wants to sell, he can sell. His neighbour does not, he will till his fields. So it wiil be a good example of farming, colonising (Delhi's kachi colony type) and industry (small heavy polluting factories) jostling space for each other. Everybody's happy. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;In this game. TATA is a looser.
    1. Mohammad Bin Tughlaq
      Sep 7, 2016 at 11:23 pm
      There was an old Malayalam movie where a contractor won a case against PWD and was allowed to take the road roller in lieu of payment. The road roller was not in a working condition and PWD officials insisted that the contractor should remove it from its office premises immediately and the fun started.lt;br/gt;Like that now the farmers won the case and now they don't know what to do. Each one having their own ideas.lt;br/gt;The simple solution will be give it back to Tatas if they are willing to take it back. But most probably Tatas or for that matter no industrialist will put even their toe on the Bongla Land. The had enough from the Maha Kali.
      1. K
        Krishan Chauhan
        Sep 8, 2016 at 2:17 am
        I'm not capitalist, yet I want to know, what was the fault of Tatas Motors? If there was an illegality or even a conspiracy, the honourable court did not rule it.lt;br/gt;If it wasn't, should the state government reimburse the company for their losses as the mistake was committed by the then CM of the state?lt;br/gt;Tomorrow certain decisions of the present CM would also be questioned in the court!
        1. G
          Sep 8, 2016 at 5:29 am
          once again a dela justice bringing no benefit to any stakeholders..time courts prioritize cases that involve a wide set of less privileged sections of the society
          1. R
            Sep 8, 2016 at 3:40 am
            Supreme Court decision and Mamta's position appears to be Tuglakian.
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