- Jul 31, 2009
Have we forgotten Singur ?
Today is 4th October , 2009. Exactly one year ago 3rd October, 2008 Tata declared their decision to shift Nano project from disputed land of Singur, West Bengal. For several months this project and Singur had remained a focal point in national politics and later it proved to be very costly for ruling Leftists in West Bengal. Now after one year I think it is time to look beck once to evaluate who has gained and who has lost from all this controversies.
When Tata moved out from Singur it was considered as a victory of protesters lead by Trinomool Congress suprimo Mamata Banerjee over the CPI(M) lead government of West Bengal. It gave Miss Banerjee a status of messiah of poor and farmers. Perhaps they started believe that if government tries to take their land in name of development it is only Mamata who can save them. Several projects after that witnessed mass protest against land acquisition. Mamata Banarjee recovered her lost popularity (in previous election her party was wept out by sweeping victory of CPM) and popular Chief Minister of West Bengal , Mr Buddhadev Bhattacharia (whom Mr Ajim Premji once declared as best CM in India) got an image of a monster. Soon that reflected in ballot box and CPI(M) had been knocked out by opposition parties throughout the State in next Assembly election. So it is not hard to gusess who gained and who lost politically.
What happened to the land owners? There were approximate 11,000 landowners in that disputed territory of Singur (997acre). Aproximately 9,000 of them collected compensation cheques from Government offices. Others demanded their land back. The land less peasants who were solely dependent on the land became the main force in the agitation as the Nano project was a threat of losing jobs for them. One point to remember that the agitation in Singur was revived just before two months of proposed lunch of Nano car. In between Nandigram took the lime-light from Singur. By the time Fertile land of disputed area had lost its character due to development works to raise the height of the low paddy field and a large factory was towering on it. According to the experts the land would never be used for agriculture again. But protesters were adamant on their demand. And after one year, there is no factory, nor the land is fit for cultivation. Neither agriculture can give jobs to people nor the factory. And I have doubt whether the land can be returned to the peasants legally. I don’t know whether Mamata Banerjee have time to go there or other activists like Medha Patekar, Arundhuti Roy etc. At least I can’t see in news papers (included pro-Mamata media too) Didn’t they protest for the farmers to get back their land? The farmers still haven’t got their land back. Then why they are forgotten? Certainly the farmers gained a big zero from the dispute.
Such disputes can be avoided if the Government works with some long term objectives. Take the example of West Bengal itself. Most of the districts surrounding Kolkata has very fertile lands. If lands are acquired from these areas that will give birth of controversy. Again because of proximity to Kolkata (city and port), air-port, road connection and other infrastructures, industrial interests also coincide here. It dose not mean that industry is not creeping in here. Thousands of smaller units have been set up in these districts without controversy but none of them is near to Nano project in size. In the districts in west like Bankura, Purulia, West Medinipore etc (where lands are not fertile) , Industries can be set up but no infrastructures available there. The Government neither has the financial capacity nor any long term plan to build up necessary infrastructures there. Anyway, Tata Motors would have not been ready to wait 10-15 years for getting developed land. So it is better to came back to the topic. Mamata got what she wanted, But the protesters got zero. Tata moved out of Singur losing several hundred crores ,red fort of CPI(M) collapsed in West Bengal. What we got after everything? If Gujrat now claims in filmy style , “ Mere pass yeh hai , woh hai ,Nano hai, Tumhare pass kya hai?” WB can answer only, “ Mere pass Didi hai”. After all she is the only one who emerged as the winner.