Such a document could have prevented unsavoury situations: Buddhadeb

Releasing the first land use map for West Bengal, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said on Wednesday that certain unsavoury situations in Singur and Nandigram could have been avoided if such a document was in place at that time.

Replying to a question at the Secretariat after the official publication of the land use map for five districts, Mr. Bhattacharjee said: “Some uncomfortable situations at Singur and Nandigram may have been prevented. The land use map will also help in land acquisition.”

He said that although the proportion of barren land was very low in West Bengal, with a document like a land use map in hand, it was possible to adopt a balanced approach.

The publication was released by the Chief Minister in the presence of Land and Land Reforms Minister Abdul Rezzak Mollah.

Mr. Bhattacharjee — who earlier said that the acquisition of farmland for setting up industries would be avoided as far as possible — said on Wednesday that even the Railways were being forced to acquire agricultural land for their projects.

Two phases

While in the first phase, five districts — Paschim Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura, Bardhaman and Birbhum — have been covered, land-use maps would be undertaken for seven more districts in the second phase: North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, Nadia, Purba Medinipur, Hooghly and Howrah.

The satellite-based blockwise maps were supplied by the Science and Technology Department and the field verifications in the blocks were completed in February.

The maps contain information about the proportion of dry and barren land, single and multi-crop areas, forest land, metalled roads and National and State highways, railway network, water bodies and degraded forest.

Mr. Bhattacharjee said that forest land and wetlands could not be touched at all.

The map, published on Wednesday, showed that the percentage of agricultural land varied between 58.9 per cent (Bankura) and 75.69 per cent (Birbhum), with Bardhaman having the highest proportion of multicrop land.

Industry presence was very low in all the five districts barring Bardhaman.