Tata's retreat from Singur augurs well for agriculture

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Kolkata, Oct 16 (UNI) Ratan Tata's retreat from Singur augured well for agriculture and conversion of arable land for other purposes would only aggravate the existing food crisis, according to NGOs and experts.

Observing the "World Food Day" here today, they vowed to renew agitation if the government made any move to take away even a single piece of land for other purposes and demanded that land be restored to the original owners in Singur with adequate compensation.

Fian, an NGO, secretary Biplab Halim told a newsconference that despite the fact that around 70 per cent rural people in Bengal depended on agriculture, the government had virtually disowned the sector and disempowered small and marginal peasants by covering fertile agriculture land for industrialisation.

This was being done, when over 50,000 industries have been closed down in the last 30 years due to alleged poor planning of the government, Mr Halim claimed. Besides, there was no effort till date to rejuvenate these industries or to utilise the lands of these closed units for new industrialisation,he added.

Former land and land reform commissioner Debobrata Banerjee said the government should ensure food security for all and make laws prohibiting MNCs from grabbing land.

He said the government spends huge sums every year for importing rice and atta and virtually crippled the ration system.

Mr Banerjee said the government had created a "myth" for its own vested interest about Tata's exit from Singur adding the retreat was a victory for peasants.

Gandhi Peace Foundation's Chandan Pal, writer Sunanda Sanyal and many others spoke on the occasion.

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