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5 months for Tata to save Singur lease deal

Last updated on: May 18, 2011 09:27 IST

5 months for Tata to save Singur lease deal

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Ishita Ayan Dutt in Kolkata

Tata Motors has five months to work out a solution to the Singur imbroglio, to save the lease agreement from being terminated.

According to the lease agreement between Tata Motors and the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, the lessor will have the option to terminate the lease if the land has not been used for three years or more, which will kick-in from October 2011.

Tata Motors had pulled out of the Nano project in October 2008.

Though Tata is yet to communicate its plan for Singur, it has paid the rent for the year.

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Image: People march in support of Nano factory at Singur in 2008.
Photographs: Reuters
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5 months for Tata to save Singur lease deal

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Asked whether it would come up with a project by October, a company spokesperson said there was nothing to say at this stage.

With the group keeping a communication channel open to the Trinamool Congress by informing it about its cancer hospital launch, the ice that had settled in after Mamata Banerjee spearheaded the agitation against the Nano project at Singur, is likely to be thawed.

The Tata Group chairman inaugurated the hospital on Monday, and also became the first major investor to step into the city after the elections.

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Image: Ratan Tata.

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5 months for Tata to save Singur lease deal

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Tata Sons on Tuesday said letters about the intended commencement of the hospital were sent to a group that included the Prime Minister, other Union cabinet ministers, the chief minister of West Bengal (Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee) and state ministers and the leader of the Opposition (Partha Chatterjee of Trinamool Congress), and the chief ministers of the North-Eastern states, and senior bureaucrats.

The letters were signed by R K Krishna Kumar in his capacity as a trustee of the Tata Medical Centre Trust.

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Image: Tata Nano.

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5 months for Tata to save Singur lease deal

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As far as a settlement over Singur is concerned, Trinamool is tightlipped, ahead of the swearing-in ceremony on Friday.

Repeated calls to Trinamool deputy leader, Partha Chatterjee, proved futile.

"We have not had any discussions with Ratan Tata on Singur and it's too sensitive a subject to talk about before anything has happened," Trinamool leader, Saugata Ray, said.

The onus to settle the Singur land issue is not just with the Tata Group.

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Image: Policemen with riot gear stand guard inside the entrance of Nano factory.
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters
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5 months for Tata to save Singur lease deal

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Banerjee, too, has a promise to keep, as the people at Singur are becoming restive, having waited for more than two years.

The day election results were announced, the unwilling farmers had performed puja, hoping they would get their land back.

Under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, land once acquired for a public purpose cannot be returned.

A new legislation, though, could be passed, if Banerjee sticks to her demand of returning '400 acres', which the erstwhile government pegged at 181 acres.

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Image: Mamata Banerjee waves to supporters outside her residence in Kolkata.
Photographs: Reuters
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5 months for Tata to save Singur lease deal

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Banerjee wanted the vendor park spread over 290 acres to be shifted to a different location, which would be an onerous task, as WBIDC had entered into separate lease agreements with each vendors.

If Banerjee climbs down from the earlier demand of returning the land, the option of increasing compensation would prove to be expensive.

As the earlier government had pointed out, unwilling farmers were just 2,000 in number. If the compensation was increased, it would have to include the balance 11,000 willing farmers, as well.

Options are few and the clock is ticking.


Image: Tata Motors chairman Ratan Tata with the Nano.
Photographs: Reuters
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