September 28th, 2011
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Tata’s disgraceful loss

ratan tata loses singur caseKolkatta: The West Bengal Government emerged victorious in the Singur case. The awaited verdict came in favour of the government and Tata’s who lost had to retract with a bruised ego.

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday upheld as constitutional and valid the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011 by which the West Bengal Government vested the land leased to Tata Motors Ltd. (TML). The Act was introduced in June by Mamata Banerjee shortly after she was elected Chief Minister of West Bengal. It allowed her government to cancel a 99-year-lease signed with Ratan Tata for nearly 1000 acres for his Nano factory.  The deal had been signed by the Left government.

Justice I.P. Mukerji, while upholding the validity of the Act, directed that compensation be paid to TML if it makes an application for it, while noting that the district judge of Hooghly should determine the amount of compensation to be paid.

It held that if TML, which had shifted its Nano car plant from Singur to Sanand in Gujarat alleging political unrest, makes the application for compensation, the District Judge would have to dispose it within six months. The judge also said his verdict will be stayed -remain in suspension -for a month. That gives both parties the chance to appeal against the verdict in a higher court. The Tata’s are expected to appeal against today’s order in the Supreme Court.

The Court also appointed the district magistrate and SP of Hooghly district, within which Singur falls, as special officers to ensure smooth transfer of land from TML to the State in two months. The court has given Mr Tata’s company two months to remove all equipment and other belongings from the factory his company had set up at Singur.

Farmers from Singur and adjoining areas have claimed that close to 400 acres of their land had been given to Mr Tata by the Left against their wishes. Returning this land to farmers was one of the biggest promises Ms Banerjee made during her campaign.

The court also upheld the vesting of the land given to vendors, who had also challenged the Act in a separate application. Justice Mukerji disposed both the applications, by TML and the vendors, challenging the Singur Act which was notified on June 21. The government took possession of the Singur land totalling 997 acres on the evening of June 21 itself. TML had challenged the Act before the High Court on June 22, claiming that it was unconstitutional and as such vesting of the 600 acres of land leased to it was invalid.

Around 300 acres had been earmarked for the vendors. The West Bengal government had acquired 997 acres of land at Singur besides Durgapur Expressway, about 50 km from here, in 2006 for the Tata Nano factory.

The Singur acquisition by the erstwhile Left Front government had led to a huge political unrest in the state over acquisition of fertile land, ripple effects of which were witnessed in other parts of the country as well.





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