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Tata arrives in Kolkata today

Last updated on: May 16, 2011 12:28 IST

Ratan Tata's 2nd innings in Bengal begins

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Ishita Ayan Dutt in Kolkata

Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata was in Kolkata on May 18, 2006, the day Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee started his second innings as chief minister of West Bengal, to announce the Nano small car project.

He will again be in Kolkata on Monday, just ahead of Mamata Banerjee's swearing-in ceremony, albeit to 'soft-launch' a smaller project, the cancer hospital at the suburb of Rajarhat.

Though a soft launch, apart from Tata, some directors of Tata Sons, group holding company, and managing directors of key group companies were expected to be present, officials said, while a formal launch of the project was slated for later in the year.

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Image: Ratan Tata.

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Calls and text messages made to a Tata Group spokesperson did not elicit any response.

The Group had informed leaders in both the Left Front and its substitute as the ruling grouping, the Trinamool Congress, about the launch, in what could be seen as the first signs of rapprochement with Banerjee.

Tata and Banerjee share a history that dates back to 2006, when she started campaigning against the Nano project at Singur, which ultimately led to Tata Motors relocating the project to Sanand in Gujarat in October 2008.

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Image: Tata Nano.

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Ratan Tata's 2nd innings in Bengal begins

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Her main demand was return of the land taken from farmers with no wish to sell, that she pegged at 400 acres, though the erstwhile government put the figure at 181 acres.

In 2009, on a visit to Kolkata, Ratan Tata had said he would not stand in the way of any development that might take place on the land at Singur.

In the same breath, he had indicated, he would return the land if compensated.

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Image: Mamata Banerjee waves to supporters outside her residence in Kolkata.
Photographs: Reuters
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The land is still with Tata Motors and the rent for the year was paid before the historic elections in West Bengal that saw the rout of the Left Front.

The total land at Singur was 997 acres, of which the mother plant was spread over 650 acres and the vendor park accounted for 290 acres.

Though Banerjee had said the first file she would sign once she became chief minister was on Singur, this is unlikely to happen soon, going by the lease agreement between Tata Motors and the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.

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Image: People march in support of Nano factory at Singur.
Photographs: Reuters
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Ratan Tata's 2nd innings in Bengal begins

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More, there is no provision under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, to give back unused land to the land losers.

The new state government could, of course, pass a law in the legislature but it would be unprecedented.

Some of the Trinamool leaders had indicated before the assembly elections that they were not averse to Tata investing in Bengal or setting up any project on the undisputed 600 acres at Singur.


Image: Policemen with riot gear stand guard inside the entrance of Nano factory.
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters
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