Update: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said at Singur after launching the process of returning land to farmers, “We will return all the land to their respective owners by November 10. Out of 997 acres of land, work (of making it cultivable) is now left in only 65 acres. We are returning 103 acres of cultivable land today. We have to save the greenery. Singur is smiling again. We have followed Supreme Court’s order. Our government has made this land fit for farming.”
CM Mamata added, “ The Singur movement will become an international model for land rights. We will make a monument to commemorate the sacrifice and hard work of the people of Singur. This singur movement teaches us that we should never run away from a fight. We are also handing over seeds and agricultural equipment to farmers today.”
CM Mamata concluded, “I thank every officer and the local people for their help in getting the land ready for farming. I thank all the intellectuals, artistes and others who supported the movement. Good governance depends on team work, transparency and fulfilling promises.”
Singur: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee begins handing over lands to its original owners on Thursday at Singur.
The administration begins handing possession of the plot to its original owners, and the state’s agriculture department has decided that the first crops to be sown in Singur are mustard and pulses.
On August 31, while quashing the Left Front government’s acquisition of 997 acres of agricultural land for Tata Motors’ Nano car plant in Hooghly’s Singur, the Supreme Court had given the state 12 weeks to return land to the owners. Fifty days later, on October 20, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee starts returning the land to the farmers concerned.
The seeds, that would be sown, will be distributed by the state government, and if all goes well, Das might be able to reap her first harvest in January. With Rs3.5 lakh in her bank account—the compensation which she had previously refused to take from the state treasury now drawn with honour as a prize—Das is now looking to turn the clock back. “I am still strong enough to plough my land,” she said.
Almost the entire plot will be cultivable immediately, according to state government officials. There is, though, some uncertainty over a portion of the plot where Tata Motors had built its factory, raising the plinth with landfill.
The Supreme Court deadline was a tough one to follow, as left untouched for a decade, snakes and forests had grown in the once arable land.
The fertile top soil too had been destroyed. Moreover, the government wanted to return the land in cultivable form.
“Asking for more time from the court was not an option. This is Singur, the foundation on which the entire government is based. For Mamata Banerjee, this was the culmination of her entire political career,” said an official.
To meet the deadline, the government brought in four agencies — Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), Kolkata Muncipal Corporation (KMC), People’s Work Development (PWD), and Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) — to work in Singur. Departments of agriculture, PWD, labour and irrigation also pitched in.
“The land needed to be surveyed to know who owned which plot. It also had to be restored and the forest removed. We worked irrespective of the weather… There were times when the equipment wasn’t available.
“For instance, on Ashtami during Durga Puja, we realised that we needed a construction vehicle, which wasn’t available. It was brought in from Bardhaman at almost twice the cost,” said a PWD official.
Officials said that the Hooghly district magistrate has now been asked to find out whether the excavated areas can be filled up with top soil taken from other areas.
The government had maintained that 35 per cent of the 997 acres had lost its top soil as it was dug up to make way for a drainage system, water bodies and to lay roads.
“Till now, 80 per cent of the land is cultivable… The government is working to make the other portion arable too,” the CM had said.
“The District Magistrate will see if the soil can be made available from nearby areas, otherwise we will approach other districts,” said a district administration official.