Resource centre on India's rural distress
 
 

Singur hopes to get back 400 acres by Uttam Dutta

Manasi Manna of Singur hopes that Mamata Banerjee will return her one-acre plot, which had been acquired for the Nano project, after taking charge as chief minister.

“My husband and I used to cultivate the land. We used to get three crops a year. We never had to worry about food. Everything came from that land. But after it was forcibly taken away for the small-car project, I have been forced to make bidis while my husband works as a labourer on someone else’s field,” said Manasi, who lives about 100 metres from the abandoned Tata project site.

“We used to support the CPM earlier. But we became disillusioned after the party snatched our land. We joined the anti land-acquisition movement led by Mamata. I was even arrested and spent four days in jail. Mamata had promised to return the land of unwilling farmers if she came to power. We will be grateful to her if she keeps her promise,” Manasi said.

Her remarks found echoes in the voices of several unwilling farmers in Singur. Mamata, whose sustained protest against forcible land acquisition gave the initial impetus to her political revival, had repeatedly promised to return to the unwilling farmers 400 of the 997 acres acquired for the project.

Panchu Manna, a 78-year-old farmer whose one-and-a-half-acre plot was acquired for the project, said he would not have survived had his two sons not been working. “I would have starved to death after my land was taken away. One of my sons is a jeweller in Delhi. The other is a carpenter. I am looking forward to the day when Mamata returns my plot to me,” Panchu said. “I don’t mind if a factory comes up on the remaining 600 acres,” he, however, added.

Housewife Krishna Bag, 30, whose husband’s one-acre plot was acquired, said: “I was jailed for four days for participating in the anti land-acquisition movement. I had taken my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter with me to jail. We are happy that Mamata has come to power. Now, we want her to fulfil her promise.”

Becharam Manna, the newly elected Trinamul MLA from neighbouring Haripal, said land had been “forcibly taken from nearly 2,900 villagers”.

“Tomorrow, I will meet Mamatadi and convey to her the villagers’ request,” he added.

Many Singur residents yesterday worshipped at the Kali temple located inside the compound of the abandoned Nano plant after Trinamul’s victory in the elections.

Tamper charge

Trinamul has decided to challenge the election results for Burdwan’s Mangalkot constituency, alleging that the postal ballot papers were tampered with. CPM’s Sahajahan Chowdhury won the seat by 126 votes by defeating Trinamul’s Apurba Chowdhury.