Government Will Acquire Land With The Consent Of The Owners

Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata’s threat to pull the Rs 1,500-crore Nano small-car project out of West Bengal in the face of violence and protests over farmland acquisition has deepened the gloom over the Left Front government’s industrialisation drive, with most of its larger and more ambitious infrastructure projects already on hold over land issues.
Just last week, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had indicated that the government has decided to stop work for the time being for the Salim Group’s proposed Barasat-Raichak Expressway. He had told a public meeting in north Bengal that, henceforth, the government would acquire land only with the consent of the owners.
The Salim Group and the state government had formed a special purpose vehicle, New Kolkata International Development Pvt Ltd, to build a clutch of industrial and infrastructure projects, the largest being around Nandigram, requiring a grand total of 28,500 acres.
The Nandigram chemical hub project had to be abandoned last year in the face of violent public protests. Now it has been shrunk to a location around the existing industrial town of Haldia, with the riverine island of Nayachar included.
The Salim group had earlier committed an investment of almost Rs 20,000 crore over a period of five years in West Bengal.
Next in the queue of casualties was the Rs 33,000 crore DLF township project in Dankuni , in Hooghly district-a public-private partnership project with the Kolkata Municipal Development Authority.
Touted as one of the largest real estate projects in the country, the township is proposed to be spread over 4,840 acres. It will have provision for both residential and industrial projects.
Protests over land acquisition have also put a question mark on the proposed projects like Baruipur and Kalyani townships. Almost 500 acres were acquired by KMDA for the Rs 400 crore project at Baruipur.
According to reports, 2,000 acres were to be acquired in Uluberia for a planned industrial development project. An industrial park over 1,325 acres was also proposed at Sankrail in Howrah. Proposed IT hubs in Kalyani, Durgapur and Haldia are also facing the heat of uncertainty.
The Left Front government’s position is that the state has very little barren land, just 1% of the total land area, and that some farmland will have to be acquired to re-industrialise the state. At present, around 100,000 acres will have to be acquired for the projects on the table. Against this, the total farmland in West Bengal is over 13,700,000 acres.

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