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West Bengal rules out returning land in Singur


Kolkata : The West Bengal government Tuesday formally ruled out returning land to the unwilling farmers in Singur but announced an elaborate economic rehabilitation package for those whose plots were acquired for the Tata Motors small car factory.

"Land cannot be returned – either legally or practically," Industry Minister Nirupam Sen told a press conference here urging the opposition to cooperate in the industrialisation process.

He said while women would be trained in catering services, several youths would be given training in driving. Besides, computer training would be imparted by the NIIT.

Women are also being trained for apparel industry work, he said.

"We have worked out a comprehensive economic rehabilitation package of which skill upgradation programmes are a part," Sen said.

"About 2,851 people, including 703 women, have enlisted with the programmes," he said.

"We urge the opposition not to be swayed or confused and instead cooperate with us," Sen said, adding, "I will try to bring consensus though it is difficult."

"We will try to give the people there (in Singur) a better standard of life and new livelihoods," he said.

Sen branded as rumours that shopping malls and townships would be set up in the area acquired for Tata projects.

"The entire area would be used for the car project and ancillary units," he said.

On Friday, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) patriarch Jyoti Basu said the state government has worked out an unbeatable compensation package for the unwilling farmers of Singur but the Trinamool Congress refused to accept anything short of returning the plots.

"The package worked out by Nirupam Sen is something never seen before anywhere in India," Basu said.

Basu held talks with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee recently and assured the firebrand leader to look into the possibility of reorganisation of land given to Tata Motors.

He later said that land could not be returned but a handsome compensation package could be worked out.

Over 997 acres of land in Singur, about 40 km from Kolkata in Hooghly district, have been chosen by Tata Motors for its small car project. The issue has triggered a violent face-off between the government and farmers led by civil society groups and parties like the Trinamool Congress.

Some farmers even committed suicides.