Singur impasse: Ray of hope as Gov steps-in

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Kolkata/Singur, Sep 4: 5 days after Tata Nano shut work, and the issue reached a dead end, West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi steps-in to save face for the state. There is a glimmer of hope as Governor steps-in to chair a meeting between a panel from the state government and Trinamool Congress on Friday, Sep 5.

Gandhi accepted the request to do so consistent with his view that the imbroglio over Singur was exacting social cost of a high magnitude, apart from the investment costs and implications on the polity. Former Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Chittatosh Mukherji will advise the Governor during the course of the discussion on legal aspects.

The Governor held long discussions with Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly Partha Chatterjee at Raj Bhavan. He also went to former Finance Minister Ashok Mitra's residence and discussed the Singur issue.

He will have preliminary discussions with the dtate government representatives - Industry Minister Nirupam Sen, Health Minister Surjakanta Mishra, Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb and Home Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakravarty at 1000 hours and then with Trinamool Congress representatives - Partha Chatterjee and legal practitioner Kalyan Banerjee at 1200 hours.

Bhattacharjee, meanwhile, appealed to the agitators not to injure the prospects of the state and exuded his optimism over the Governor's nod to mediate between the state government and Trinamool Congress.

''The Tata's pullout from the state will be a blunder and the latter will earn a bad reputation in the nation. West bengal will become a backward state, '' Bhattacharjee added.

''I have never seen such an irresponsible Opposition. They express their dissent whenever we embark on a developmental activity. They say no to industry, no to thermal power plant to be set up at Katowa in Burdwan... they say no to everything,'' the Chief Minister rued.

Fresh trouble brewed in Singur again, as a farmer allegedly committed suicide and a group of contractual labourers and Trinamool Congress supporters clashed. Singur police station Officer In charge Priyabrata Bakshi said a 60-year-old farmer committed suicide by hanging himself. CPI(M) workers, however, alleged that the farmer committed suicide owing to depression because his two sons, engaged in the Tata Motors' small car factory, had been rendered unemployed after work at the plant stalled.

Krishi Jami Raksha Committee convener Becharam Manna, however, claimed that the farmer committed suicide following some family dispute and not due to the Tatas' pullout threat.

''The farmer has already been paid over Rs one lakh for the acquisiton of his land. As such, there is no question of his committing suicide due to the stalling of work at the Tata project. Instead, it was following some family matter,'' Mr Manna said.

Meanwhile, a clash erupted between a group of contractual labourers and construction material suppliers for the small car factory and Trinamool
Addressing the agitators from one of the platforms, Ms Banerjee reiterated that the pullout threat by the Tatas was only a ''pressure tactic to derail the movement demanding return of the 400 acre land to the unwilling farmers.'' ''The Tatas' decision to relocate the plant is entirely their internal and technical matter and I will not like to comment on this development,'' she underlined.

On Tuesday, Sep 2, the Tatas announced to relocate the Nano plant from Singur and manufacture the world's cheapest car at other company facilities. The company, which indefinitely stopped work at the Singur project on August 29, following a 'lay-siege' programme by Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, also officially announced suspension of work.


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