ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Revisiting Singur

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While the final verdict of the Supreme Court in the Singur land acquisition case for Tata Motors’ proposed Nano car factory is still pending, the issue was widely discussed during the recent assembly elections in West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee said that “the land of Singur has become sacred.” The candidate of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)— CPI(M)—started his poll campaign in a yellow Nano car. Meanwhile former CPI(M) minister Gautam Deb told the media, “We will definitely try to withdraw the case first after the alliance comes to power. Our priority is industrial investment in Bengal and we will initiate talks with the Tatas to facilitate industry in Singur.”

After coming to power in 2011, the Mamata Banerjee-led government passed the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011. The act has empowered the government to reclaim about 400 acres of land which was acquired from the unwilling farmers forcefully and handed over to Tata Motors for the Nano car factory during the Left Front regime. As the Tata Motors approached the Calcutta High Court for legal help, on 22 June 2012 a division bench of the court declared the act to be “unconstitutional and void.” Then the state government moved this case to the Supreme Court against the verdict of the Calcutta High Court. A recent hearing of the Supreme Court bench comprising justices V Gopala Gowda and Arun Mishra questioned the manner in which over 400 acres of land were allotted to Tata Motors. As per the reports, the bench mentioned that the entire exercise was done by “bulldozing the law,” and was a “legal mala fide.” Colin Gonsalves, a senior advocate appearing for some affected farmers said, “the State could not have acquired land for a private company under sections of law meant only to acquire land for a public purpose.”

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