Mamata’s Singur proposal draws mixed reactions

Kolkata, Feb 24 (Calcutta Tube) Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s announcement of her willingness to set up a coach factory in West Bengal’s Singur has triggered mixed reactions among the people in the rural hamlet.

‘Railways has received a request from the government of West Bengal to set up a coach factory in Singur. Ministry of railways has conveyed its willingness, provided the state government hands over the requisite land to the ministry of railways after returning 400 acres of land to the unwilling farmers,’ Banerjee said in her budget speech.

Mahadeb Das, a resident of Singur told IANS: ‘This is a welcome proposal for the Singur dwellers. We want some public investment on the abandoned piece of land. We don’t want private investment.’

Singur, 40 km from here, turned into a battleground since May 2006 after the state’s Left Front government announced global auto major Tata Motors would roll out the world’s cheapest car Nano, priced at Rs.100,000, from there.

Opposition Trinamool Congress-led protestors demanded return of 400 acres – of the 997.11 acres acquired – to farmers. Finally, Tata Motors in October 2008 moved the plant to Gujarat’s Sanand.

Banerjee is the supremo of Trinamool Congress.

Das also said: ‘We want some government institution to set up a unit in that abandoned place so that jobs for our next generation are ensured.’

Das was one of those who lost their land for the project.

Another landowner who lost his holding Dudhkumar Dhara also expressed a similar view. ‘We have no objections to any such projects in the place. Given the present condition of the land within the factory boundary, we are doubtful how much cultivation can be done on that land. Any national project on that land is always welcome.’

But Balai Sabui, a Communist Party of India-Marxist leader from that area has a different take. ‘We have heard many such things in the past. Nothing is going to happen over there.’

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