The Tata Group has responded to Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's offer of an alternative land to set up an industry to compensate for the loss in Singur with a counter offer, saying that they want Rs. 154 crore as compensation for what the company had paid to the Left government when they had bought the land for the Nano car factory project.
The company said it waived off a loss of around Rs. 1,246 crore which it incurred while shifting the project to Gujarat.
"According to our estimate, the total money we had spent in Singur — from land acquisition till the point we left — was around Rs. 1,400 crore. Of this, approximately Rs. 154 crore was paid to the state government for buying the land after it was acquired," an official told the Indian Express.
The Bengal government sees the move by the Tata Group as a "positive" one and a step in the "right direction." It also signed an agreement with Tata Metaliks Limited for a skill development centre to train 1,200 youth in West Midnapore every year.
An official said that the Bengal government is "not in a position to pay the compensation" in cash, but is keen on allotting land to the company "along with a slew of business-friendly measures."
Banerjee had announced her decision to start afresh with the Tata Group and also offered the salt-to-software conglomerate land to set up industries in Bengal, while giving a speech on "Singur Divas" held to celebrate the verdict of the Supreme Court in the Singur land acquisition case.
The Supreme Court quashed the former Left government's acquisition of land for the Tata Nano factory in Singur on Aug. 31 and asked the current government to take possession of the land and distribute it to the farmers within 12 weeks. It added that the CPI (M) government had not acquired the land for "public purpose". Therefore, it should be distributed among its rightful owners.
The fight between the Bengal government and Tata Motors over the Tata Nano car factory, which was supposed to be set up in Singur in 2006, had been going on for five years.
The former government, led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, had allotted around 1,000 acres to Tata Motors to set up the factory. But the project was shelved following protests by farmers, activists and the Banerjee-led TMC. She had also gone on a 26-day hunger strike to protest against the land acquisition.
The compensation offered to the displaced farmers by the company was apparently inadequate, considering the big promises made by them.
The CM passed the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, shortly after coming to power to take over the land given to the Tata Group by the previous government.
The company moved the Kolkata High Court, challenging the move, following which the acquisition was upheld by the trial court and the act passed by the Banerjee government was declared unconstitutional on appeal. The matter was then taken to the SC, which directed that the land be returned to the farmers.