BDO office starts accepting forms from farmers who did not settle for compensation

Even as Tata Motors' petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, is pending in the Calcutta High Court, the process for distribution of the land started at the office of the Block Development Officer at Singur in Hooghly district on Sunday.

The West Bengal government has initiated the process at a time when Advocate-General Anindya Mitra is yet to respond to the proposal by Samaraditya Pal, counsel for Tata Motors, on maintaining the status quo in land distribution.

On June 24, Mr. Mitra said he would consult the government and inform the court of its decision on Monday.

However, the land distribution was expedited after a meeting of the 19-member land return facilitation committee on Saturday. Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee, MLAs of Singur and Haripal, Rabindranath Bhattacharjee and Becharam Manna, the local MP and district officials are on the committee.

“The process for the distribution of land started today [Sunday],” Mr. Manna, who is also convener of the Krishi Jami Rakshya Committee, told The Hindu on the phone.

Mr. Manna said the BDO's office started accepting the forms from the farmers who did not accept the compensation offered at the time of the land acquisition. There were 4,000 farmers who were unwilling to part with their land, he claimed, and all of them would submit their forms within three days.

According to the notice issued by the office of the District Magistrate of Hooghly, S. Rengarajan, who is also a member of the high-powered committee formed to supervise the land distribution, all claims would have to be submitted in 30 days.

The notice states that the committee “after hearing the parties, will make order for grant of land and/or compensation as may be decided in respect of the parties.”

When Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was spearheading the agitation against the setting up of the Tata Motors' small car factory on the site at Singur, she ruled out any compensation and insisted that the land be returned to those unwilling to part with it.

“The decision of the committee with respect to grant of land and/or compensation to the unwilling owners shall be final,” the notice adds.