Nandigram, Dec 26: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today made his first public appearance in strife ravaged Nandigram in 10 months and announced a bouquet of sops for rehabilitation, development and restoration of peace in the region. With an eye to the Panchayat elections next year, Bhattacharjee, who attended a huge public rally here for the first time after his public address in Khejuri on February 11, not only pleaded for restoring and maintaining of peace in Nandigram, but also assured complete rehabilitation of the people affected in the last one year irrespective of their party affiliations.
"The government does not discriminate. We will lay out complete rehab package for the people of Nandigram irrespective of their party affiliation. I want to make it very clear that we will not acquire any land in Nandigram by force. We have never done it in our 30 years rule in this state and it shall not happen," Bhattacharjee asserted.
While all the families of the dead in March 14 firing were given Rs two lakhs each, the Chief Minister stated that Rs eight crores is blocked that was meant for rehab and development of Block I and II of Nandigram as teh Panchayat system came to a halt in the last one year.
"While Rs one crore has been set aside to rebuild houses, money has also been alloted for utensils, clothes and other necessity goods that will be provided to all the affected people. Of this Rs 74 lakhs have already been used and the remaining will be used by year end," he said.
He also said that for Boro rice cultivation and for harvesting the winter cereals and vegetables the agriculture department has been asked to supply mini-kits of seeds to all concerned.
"I have heard that still some people have not got money for house rebuilding and some seeds supplied were not up to the mark. The work will be completed within this month. Work will also start at the Panchayat offices so that all pending works are completed like cutting 30 ponds for storing of rain water. I have also asked that the PDS is efficient here in this district," he said.
He said, "We wanted to turn Nandigram into another Haldia. We had a plan to connect Nandigram with Haldia with a bridge across river Haldi. But since the people dont want inustry here we are moving to Nayachar where the Chemical hub will come up." But that does not mean Nandigram will continue to languish as a backward block, he asserted stating that a committee has been formed under the Chairmanship of Sunderbans Development Minister Kanti Ganguly top give a plan for all-round development of Nandigram, that includes agriculture, health, education and electricity among others.
"Agriculture is our foundation, industry is our future. So both will prosper in this state and we will do everything to make sure that this state is in the forefront of national growth list," he said adding that seven steel industries were coming to Bengal, including the Jindal steel that would be the biggest in the country.
Once again appealing for peace, he asked the Bhumi Uchched Protirodh Committee (BUPC) to join hands in the development of the Nandigram, "We are not acquiring land. So we request the BUPC to form Shanti Committee (peace Committee) to restore peace in Nandigram." He also made it clear that the Maoists who have infiltrated in Nandigram taking advantage of the situation, will have to go back.
"The people of Nandigram want peace and no way will the Maoists be able to infiltrate here and carry out their political agenda of violence and killing," he said.