Kolkata: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has invited the Tatas to set up any factory they want to on 600 acres at Singur, in the plot that has been leased out to them by the West Bengal government . This was the first decision of her maiden Cabinet meeting after she stepped into Writers’ Buildings on Friday.
Four hundred acres in the 997-acre plot that was given to the Tatas, will be given back to farmers, she said. If Mamata’s first business decision was to invite the Tatas over, her first political decision was to announce that she would finalise an economic package for the Darjeeling hills and Jangalmahal and solve contentious issues in three months.
Last Friday when the election results got out, Mamata Banerjee had told ET that her government would invite large private sector investments. A week later she actually began the process by inviting the Tatas across. The Tatas in the interim had written to her, expressing their wish to invest in West Bengal, a story which was exclusive to ET. “We have decided to return 400 acres to the farmers in Singur. But the Tatas are welcome to set up a factory on the remaining 600 acres,” she announced.
The Singur fiasco had raged from 2006 to 2008, and even at its worst, Mamata Banerjee had always stuck to two things: first, that 400 acres would have to be returned to farmers who had unwillingly given up their land and second, that she wasn’t anti-industry.
She proved both on Friday evening. “This is a cabinet decision. We will act according to the law,” the chief minister said in response to a question on how the state government would execute the decision, given the fact that the land deed was currently held by the Tatas. “We have asked for a copy of the agreement between Tatas and the state government. We will make it public,” she said.
Mamata kept the choice of investment absolutely open to the Tatas. What she said effectively was that she welcomed the Tatas to put up any industrial venture that can come up on 600 acres. The Nano had got stuck in the acreage jigsaw. On Friday, the new chief minister lobbed the ball in Ratan Tata’s court.
The chief minister said that the special package for Jangalmahal, would include the setting up of a separate department to look into the problems of the people there. “This department will focus on aspects like issuance of BPL cards and generating 100 days work for these people” Mamata said.
The special package for Darjeeling would include the setting up of a small CM’s secretariat which will exclusively handle the issues in north Bengal. “To tackle the Darjeeling problem, we will talk to the people there. We will solve both the problems within three months peacefully and through negotiations. The Cabinet will meet every fortnight and the next is due on Wednesday, that is May 25” the chief minister said. Economic Times