August 31, 2011

Farmers divided over Singur land bill

Priyanka Gupta

Updated Jun 17, 2011 at 04:25pm IST

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Singur Bill seems to have opened a Pandora's box. More than 10000 willing farmers handed over their land to the Tatas for compensation and a job. They are now prepared to take the government to court over the bill.

Sixty-year-old Swapan Kumar Das, one of the farmer who exchanged his land with the Tatas for compensation and a job for his son Soumen, feels cheated. 15 days from retirement at Singur, he's not looking forward to rest after decades of work. Instead, he is bracing himself for uncertain times.

Swapan Kumar Das said, "We have lost everything either way. We thought we will get jobs because there will be an industry and I spent the money to build my house. My son trained for the Tatas for two years like others and now he has no job and he is too old to study."

More than 10,000 people willingly gave up their land for the Singur project of the Tatas. Uday Das a local doctor is one of them. He is now leading those farmers who believe they are victims of both the Left and the TMC-led governments.

"We will challenge the bill in court because it is not fair. One government makes a decision, another government comes makes another decision. What about us! Why should we suffer in between?" said Uday Das.

Another farmer Rabindranath Bolen who exchanged his land with the Tatas is upset over the fact that his land will be given to someone else.

"Why should my land be given to someone else. I gave my land for industry not to give to someone else. Where is the public purpose in this?" said Bolen.

On the other hand, those farmers who struggled for six long years to get their land back have openly welcomed the bill.

Mahabir, a farmer who had to unwillingly give up his land, said, "We have fought for so many years and lived in poverty, this bill promises that we will get our land back, but why should they who took the compensation and willingly gave up their land now crib? You can't have it both the ways.

With several promises being made and broken, the Singur chapter has become a turbulent one for Bengal, with all eyes now on Mamata Banerjee to see if she can keep the people of Singur from being divided.

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