The West Bengal government on Thursday told the Calcutta High Court that the 600 acres acquired from “willing farmers” in Singur would “undoubtedly” be used for socio-economic development, even though at this stage it was not possible to specify which industry would come up in the 600 acre site.
Countering the argument made earlier by Tata Motor's counsel Samaraditya Pal that the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 was not legislated for a public purpose but was in the interest of certain individuals, Advocate-General Anindya Mitra said that the land would be utilised for socio-economic development of the State and an “undoubted public purpose.” Mr. Mitra said the land to be returned to the unwilling farmers was less than 400 acres.
He emphasised that “a line must be drawn” between those farmers who remained unwilling throughout the process of land acquisition and those who said they were willing after accepting compensation.
Mr. Pal had earlier argued that the distinction between willing and unwilling owners was not recognised by the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, and that the return of land to “unwilling owners” could not be a public purpose.
During the day, Mr. Mitra gave a detailed account of the circumstances that led to “the abandonment” of the project in Singur by Tata Motors. “We are not saying that Tata Motors had abandoned the project, we are saying that they abandoned it at Singur,” he said.
He quoted from the annual reports of the company to ascertain when the transfer of plant and equipment to Sanand in Gujarat had been completed. He noted that besides the cost of Rs. 67 crore for transferring equipment, there was nothing in the company's financial statements to reflect the Rs. 1,800 crore loss the company claimed it had incurred.