Marcus Dam

KOLKATA: Welcoming the proposal by the Railways for setting up a coach manufacturing unit on the land that was earlier acquired by the State government for Tata Motors’s small car project which was subsequently relocated from Singur, the State’s Industries Minister, Nirupam Sen told the West Bengal Assembly here on Wednesday that it was one case with a hope of achieving consensus in the State on setting up industry.

According to the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 under which the land was acquiredthe entire acreage (997.11 acres) would have be used for a public purpose – in this case for the setting up of industry, the government contended.

It is willing to hand over the land to the Railways for the proposed coach manufacturing unit but, according to the Act it would have to be done so in its entirety (997.11 acres). Legally it is in no position to return the 400 acres in question to their erstwhile owners.

Railway Board Chairman S.S. Khurana, in a recent letter to the Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakrabarti, said that 400 acres of the land would be returned to the “unwilling” farmers from whom it was acquired. Mr. Sen told the State Assembly that the government was keen to see industry coming up at the site where the Tata Motors were to have set up its small car project. The Railway Board was has already been informed of the status of the land in question.

It was this debate over the ‘forcible’ acquisition of 400 acres that sparked off a movement, supported by Trinamool Congress chief, Mamata Banerjee against the land acquisition. Setting up a coach manufacturing unit of international standards at the same site was a proposal mooted by Ms. Banerjee as Railway Minister.