Nano project shifting was a sad thing: PM

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On Board Air India One, Oct 26 (UNI) Lamenting the circumstances in which the Nano car project had to be shifted to Gujarat, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it was a sad episode.

He, however, did not blame the Tatas for the decision saying that ''entrepreneurs are free to decide the location of their plants and in a democracy, in market economy these things happen.'' Talking to mediapersons on board his special aircraft on his way back home from his five-day tour of Japan and China late last night, he said, ''Well...we are a free democratic country...It is certainly sad the circumstances in which Ratan Tata had to move his project.'' Asked how he felt when the Nano car project went to Gujarat and if this would not send a bad signal to investors, Dr Singh said, ''these are the decisions which cannot be forced down the throat of unwilling entrepreneurs.'' He said he was sad because a lot of work had been done in West Bengal and there was a date fixed for the small car's appearance in the market.

''So that process was delayed...So, therefore to some extent, it was a sad thing.'' Without referring to the opposition of Trinamool Congress to the Nano project which forced it to exit from West Bengal, Dr Singh said India needed to industrialise. Without industrialisation, the country could not find a solution to the unemployment or development problems.

However, the real issue was what were the terms on which the land was acquired for the projects.

''There should be an increasing attempt to reward the farmer appropriately, also perhaps giving them a stake in the enterprises which come into existence on the land that is acquired.'' Pointing out that a bill to amend the Land Acquisition Act was pending before Parliament, he said this was not an issue which should create friction and division among parties, because India must industrialise to realise its destiny.

The only thing is industrialisation cannot be on the backs of the poor farmers. They should be given remunerative compensation wherever land is acquired.

The Nano car project was shifted to Gujarat from Singur in West Bengal a month ago following an agitation spearheaded by the Trinamool Congress demanding adequate compensation to the farmers for the land acquired from them for the project.

The first Rs one lakh car from the Singur plant was scheduled to be rolled out next year.

UNI SH SBA BST0810

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