New Delhi: The Calcutta High Court decision on Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, has once again brought the issue of land and industrialisation to the fore.

The issue of land and industrialisation, which needs careful handling, far away from rough and tumble electoral politics appeared unstoppable after the bill was passed by the West Bengal government in June 2011.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would have been sent the Bill for Presidential assent had it been passed by the Assembly. In fact, Governor MK Narayanan, after HC’s verdict, had said that he had thought that the Singur Legislation did not require President’s nod. The issued involved here, are far more serious than mere winning elections. The question is - can TMC government speed up the growth of West Bengal and how much serious Mamata is on this contentious issue?

The problem with Mamata was that she didn't think over the issue while getting the legislation passed in the Assembly. On papers, she promised to safeguard this right but in practice, this is vacuous right.

It was the previous Left government which is responsible for the Singur fiasco but it realized the importance of industrialization as a way out of state's economic impasse, which has been facing financial crunch. The state government has a debt burden of Rs 2,08,382.58 crore as on Mar 31, 2012.

There is an immediate need of reconsidering the old and inaccurate land acquisitions acts to look into the process of industrialisation and progress as well. Mamata's point that farmland should not be converted into industrial use is not apt but the stance of the Left government to acquire land forcibly was also totally unacceptable.

It is very unfortunate that the episodes which had put the state politics in great turmoil in the 2006-08 periods did not bring any change of fortune for West Bengal. If this impasse has to be ended, the Center must intervene into the matter at the right time in a purposive manner.

According to the Calcutta High Court verdict, the act clashed with a central legislation -the Land Acquisition Act, 1984. The Constitution of India provides that a central law will prevail over a state law if the two are in conflict.

What Singur fiasco is all about?

Tata Motors had been leased 997 acres of land by the erstwhile Left government to set up Nano project at Singur in Hooghly district in 2006. Almost 6,000 families, including farmers lost their land and livelihoods. Following political agitation and other issues, the Nano project was delayed. Tatas declared their decision to move the Nano Project out of West Bengal. In 2008, the company had moved its Nano car factory to Sanand in Gujarat citing poor law and order condition, but had kept possession of the leased land at Singur. Three years later, in June 2011, a month after taking oath as the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee government passed the historic Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Bill, 2011, in the Assembly, allowing to return 400 acres of land to those farmers who did not accept compensation.

(Abhinav Ranjan/JPN)

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