October 2, 2008

Sourav Ganguly appeals to Tata to produce Nano at Singur

Indo-Asian News Service
Kolkata, October 2, 2008

Former Indian cricket skipper Sourav Ganguly, a local hero, on Thursday urged Tata group chief Ratan Tata not to shift the Nano factory out of West Bengal and instead ensure that the small car was produced at Singur."Sourav has written to Ratan Tata, urging him to see to it that the Nano rolled out of Singur," Ashok Bhattacharya, state minister for municipalities and urban affairs, said in Kolkata."Sourav told me he has written to Tata that the majority of people in Singur and the rest of the state were in favour of Tata Motors' Singur project. He has also mentioned the massive employment opportunities that the project will provide to the people of Singur and elsewhere," said Bhattacharya, known for his closeness to the cricketing icon.Ganguly's missive to Tata comes a day before the industrialist is to meet Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the state secretariat in Kolkata in a last-ditch attempt to produce the car at the Singur factory, where the company suspended work exactly a month back - September 2 - fearing the safety of its workers.Ironically, it was on the same day - September 2 - that Ganguly had come out in support of the project calling upon people to stand up for the venture, saying it would "revolutionise the industrial prospects of West Bengal"."The starting of the Nano project will be the beginning of an era in West Bengal which will completely revolutionise the prospect of the state and the future of the youth," Ganguly, a Tata Steel employee, said in that statement.Originally scheduled to roll out the world's most inexpensive car this month, the project faces uncertainty with the company signalling it was considering a pull-out and talking to other state governments for an alternate location following intense protests by the state's main opposition Trinamool Congress.The protesters have demanded return of 400 acres to farmers who had to part with their land for the project against their will.An agreement between the state government and the protesters in the presence of Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi as also a compensation package announced by the chief minister have failed to resolve the deadlock.

Academicians urge Tatas to stay in West Bengal

Kolkata (PTI): Ahead of the crucial talks between Ratan Tata and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, eminent educationists here on Thursday requested the Tatas, who were exploring options for relocating the Singur factory, to stay in the state.

In a letter to Ratan Tata, they said that for the last few months, in the name of upholding the interest of a section of land-losers, "some people have created a situation where workers, officers and engineers at Singur project site were physically prevented from carrying out their duties."
"We have learnt that in view of the unfortunate developments, you are considering relocating your factory in some other state.

"You are the best judge to decide what is best for your company and its stakeholders. However, we would request you to give due consideration to our views before taking any decision," they said.

They said that the majority of the people would be dismayed if the Tata Motors factory at Singur is shifted out because of the "irresponsible" actions of some people.

It would harm long-term interests of the state and the land-owners who voluntarily accepted compensation and those directly associated with the small car project, they said.

The intelligentsia also said it would give a message to the country that in the name of upholding interests of a section of people, any development activity could be stalled by a few to fulfil their narrow political interests.

The signatories to the letter included former VC of Burdwan University Dilip Kumar Basu, former Pro VC of Calcutta University P N Roy, former VC of Vidyasagar University Anand Deb Mukherjee, head of CET, Kharagpur IIT, Prof Ajay Roy.

'It's still not too late for Singur settlement'

2 Oct, 2008, 0136 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who steered clear of blame game, said a solution to the Singur problem was in the interests of West Bengal and India. Mr Singh, who said that he did not want to apportion blame, said he believed that it was ‘not too late’ to find a negotiated settlement which would meet the concerns of agitating farmers as well as the investor, the Tatas. The Tatas, West Bengal government and the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress are locked in a dispute over farmland acquisition that has led the industry group to consider moving out of the state. The work of the Nano project is suspended for nearly a month. The Centre, however, is yet to show any inclination to intervene in the dispute. With West Bengal-specific political calculations overtaking other concerns, the Congress ministers at the Centre as well as the party leadership are treating it an issue that has to be addressed by the West Bengal government. The Congress has also been blaming the CPM for the crisis at Singur. The party is also wary of openly backing the investor. Union information and broadcasting minister P R Dasmunsi had said that Tatas will have to make ‘some sacrifice’ in the interest of those who will lose land at Singur. “Tatas should also make some sacrifice. An industry cannot come up ignoring society. Industry cannot come up in a war-like situation. We will be sending our proposals to the Tatas day-after-tomorrow,” Dasmunshi had said on Tuesday. After a meeting with Ms Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday evening, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee had demanded central intervention in West Bengal under Article 355 of the Constitution for ‘protecting’ the interests of farmers there. “The Centre cannot keep mum.” It must intervene to protect the interests of farmers as well as that of the industry,” she had said. Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata is expected to hold talks with West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Kolkata on October 3 to discuss the fate of the company’s Nano car project. Mr Bhattacharjee has said that he will discuss with Ratan Tata ‘all aspects of the car project’.

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