Kolkata, Aug 26: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the West Bengal Chief Minister on Monday, Aug 26 ruled out returning 400 acres of the Tata Motors' Nano factory site to farmers, saying such a step would mean dropping all plans to manufacture the world's cheapest car in the state.
"I cannot afford to return the 400 acres. If that land has to be returned, then Tata Motors project has to be dropped. I cannot allow this to happen," Bhattacharjee told here an interactive session with the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM). Describing recent protests at Singur as unfortunate, Bhattacharjee said that he was in constant touch with opposition leaders to ease the situation.
The government has already held one round of talks with Trinamool Congress leaders, but could not reach an agreement on ending protests, which prompted Tata Group chief Ratan Tata to threaten to take the Nano project elsewhere.
On Friday, Aug 22, Tata has said that he was prepared to move the plant to make the Nano, the world''s cheapest car, from Singur if violent protests continued, despite having invested Rs 1500 crore in the project.
Tata Motors has faced protests and political opposition over the acquisition of farmland for the plant in Singur, which have led to cost overruns and threaten to delay the car's launch.
The company started to build its factory in Singur in January 2007. The much awaited one-lakh rupee car, Nano, was unveiled by Ratan Tata in New Delhi in January this year, and it is likely to hit roads by October. But the project, which has become a test case for the ruling Communist party in the State, has been opposed by some farmers who claim that the Government took their land against their will.
There have been regular protests in West Bengal this year over the acquisition of agriculture land for setting up industries. Protesters have occasionally tried to stop work at the factory and fought with workers. An engineer had to be taken to hospital after his car was stoned last month.