Singur impasse: Mamata ready for talks with W. Bengal Govt.

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Kolkata, Sep 1 : Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has said she is ready to hold talks with the Left Front-led West Bengal Government, but insists that the stir at the TATA Motors' Singur project site would continue.

"Negotiations and agitation can go together," Mamata said after sending a Krishi Jami Raksha Committee delegation to met West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi on Sunday.

Earlier, the Governor wrote a letter to the Trinamool chief, urging her to take part in the negotiations.

Later on Monday, Mamata is scheduled to address a rally of small retailers in Singur. amata said she is opposed to allowing private players entry into retail trade "since it would spell disaster for small retailers".

Meanwhile, work continues to be stalled at the Tata Motors small car plant in Singur. The management says conditions are not conducive for work.

"Conditions are still not conducive here for resuming our work. We continue to assess the situation closely," a Tata Motors spokesperson said in Kolkata.

Agitators continue to block the main entry points of the factory and the Durgapur Expressway was still blocked, leaving thousands of heavy vehicles stranded.

The state Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has said that he is ready to negotiate with the Trinamool Congress.

He said that the State Government is ready to renegotiate a rehabilitation and compensation package for villagers whose farmlands have been acquired in Singur for TATA's nano plant. He also expressed his concern over the blocking of the Durgapur National Highway by Trinamool Congress-led farmers'.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has refused to be drawn into the controversy despite relations between Congress and CPI (M) turning sour after the Left Front withdrew support to the Congress-led central coalition.

"It is wholly a state subject and it is not right for the Central Government to give its opinion. Various industrial groups exist in different states. Likewise, TATA has its projects all over the country as well as abroad. We are very much in favour of industrial development and projects because it is good for the progress of the country," said Pranab.

For Tata Motors, the trouble started after the Left Front-led Government acquired farmland in Singur for the factory. The state offered compensation in return, but some villagers complained that they had not received their dues.

Others declined compensation.

In all, around 400 acres of land is still being fiercely disputed out of the 1,000 acres acquired by the State Government.

Tata Motors head Ratan Tata has threatened to move the plant to another part of the country if the violent protests continue, despite having invested 350 million dollar in the project.

Tata Motor''s decision to move out of West Bengal has already been welcomed by some other states, which are willing to give it land for setting up the plant in their regions.

ANI

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