Singur/New Delhi, Sept 10 : Authorities in West Bengal began a survey on Wednesday to find excess land around the factory building 'Nano' car as part of efforts to end protests by farmers unwilling to give up their farmlands.
The four-member committee formed to discuss a land-based solution to compensate farmers in West Bengal visited the Singur site today.
After inspecting the TATA Motors' Nano car project site, the committee comprising of Trinamool Congress leaders Rabindranath Bhattacharya, Becharam Manna, West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) Managing Director Subrata Gupta and Hooghly District Magistrate Neelam Meena will hold a second meeting.
Tata Motors has suspended work at the factory because of the stand-off and threatened to look at alternative sites after farmers backed by the local opposition party blocked roads leading to the plant and threatened workers.
After days of negotiations, the State's Communist Government and the opposition Trinamool Congress party, representing the farmers, agreed on a joint committee that would conduct the survey and return excess land around the plant to farmers.
"We believe that if the government wants to solve the problem then it can. The factory can be built even after the land of the farmers is returned to them. Both the factory and the farming land can co-exist," Becharam Manna, one of the member of the committee belonging to Trinamool Congress.
The Nano protests reflect a larger standoff between industry and farmers unwilling to give up land in a country where two-thirds of the population depends on farming. Politicisation of farmers' resentment has further complicated the issue.
The Nano factory and its ancillary units were being built on about 1,000 acres of land. About 400 acres, earmarked for ancillary units, is under dispute.
Tata Motors says separating the ancillary units from the main plant would upset the project's cost calculations, and any alteration in the original arrangement was unacceptable.
Meanwhile, Lakshmi Mittal, chairman steel giant Arcelormittal said the Singur standoff doesn't mean the country does not want growth.
"One case of Singur cannot be the example for the world. You can face this kind of problem in any other country, a particular project can face this kind of opposition from the people but the country as a whole is interested in growing and I am sure one programme which are launched in Jharkhand and Orissa were people are participating in discussion about the growth of the state," Mittal said.
Trouble began after the government acquired farmland for the factory last year. The government offered compensation which some farmers rejected, demanding that at least 400 acres be returned.
The government says it is in favour of a land-based solution for farmers but against disturbing the Tata Motors plant site.