Mamata ready for talks with Tata, but firm on returning land

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Kolkata, Aug 7 (UNI) Softening her stand on the small car project of the Tatas in Singur, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee today said she was ready to hold talks with the company but not giving up the demand for returning land to the farmers.

''We are ready to discuss the Singur issue with the Tatas provided they take an initiative. We are not against industrial development,'' she told reporters today.

A day after seven chambers of commerce called upon the people to take forward the industrialisation process in the state, the statement of the Trinamool leader, who had earlier refused to talk to the state government on the issue, came significant.

''A miscampaign is being conducted by vested interests to project us as anti-industry,'' she said.

In a terse reaction, a spokesperson of Tata Motors said the company was ''not averse to talking to anyone.'' Welcoming the Trinamool leader's willingness to hold dialogues with the Tatas, CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose renewed his appeal to Ms Banerjee having a discussion with the state government on the issue and solve it amicably.

Ms Banerjee, however, reaffirmed her demand for giving back 400 acres of land out of the total 950 acres of Singur land, acquired for the project, to those farmers, who were 'unwilling' to part with their plots and did not accept compensation.

She claimed that 600 acres of land were adequate for setting up the small car factory and there was no need for leaving space for setting up units for ancillary industries.

As the Trinamool leader was hell-bent on her demand, gearing up for a sustained movement, yesterday, the chambers of commerce expressed their deep concern at the continued turmoil over industrialisation and disruption in work.

They warned that the clock was being turned back fuelling negative perceptions and the situation would choke the state's investment prospects and slow down the growth momentum.

Though affirming that the Singur project was irreversible, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had appealed to the Trinamool Congress the previous day to break the stalemate through negotiation.

The state government had made it clear that returning land was not possible since that would spell doom for the ambitious project.

It also said the plots in question lay scattered and there was also no provision in the existing law to return the land, once acquired.

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