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Protest planned against the Tata Rs 1-lakh car
Sreelatha Menon in New Delhi | January 10, 2008 10:20 IST
Tata will unveil the Rs 1-lakh (Rs 100,000) car, also known as the lakhtakiya car, at the Auto Expo and an array of NGOs and activists from Singur, West Bengal, and other parts have lined up in Delhi for a not-so-grand reception with pamphlets and protests.
The protests are meant to highlight the plight of the hundreds of sharecroppers of Singur besides the 12,000 landowners whose land was acquired by the Bengal government for the Tata factory which is to make the small car.
NGOs have contended that the company has been given land in Singur, about an hour's drive from Kolkata, almost free to make the car.
Among the prominent activists to attend the protests are Medha Patkar and Anuradha Talwar, who heads the Paschim Bangal Khet Majdoor Samiti (PBKMS).
Several villagers from Singur who gave their land for the Tata car factory and activists from the New Trade Union Initiative (the mother organisation of the PBKMS), the National Alliance of People's Movement and the Delhi Forum for Solidarity will also attend.
Talwar, who has been spearheading protests against the alleged dispossession of hundreds of sharecroppers, said the car has been "painted with the blood of the people of Singur".
It is not clear whether the activists will actually protest inside the Auto Expo venue at Pragati Maidan.
M V Vijayan, who is organising programmes to last till the end of the Expo on behalf of the Delhi Solidarity Forum, said, "We will be addressing the media tomorrow and we have a day-long demonstration at Jantar Mantar the day after."
Activists will also be meeting political leaders of the CPI (M) and ministers in the central government to push the cause of the villagers of Singur.
We are against all cars: CSE
Tata's small car has got mixed reactions from environment groups. While R K Pachauri, who heads the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recently called it an environmental nightmare, Centre for Science and Environment says it has nothing against the small car.
Says director Sunita Narain on the eve of the unveiling of the much talked about car: "It is worth celebrating as it makes cars affordable to the common man. We have nothing against the small car. But it is a fact that the small car, the big car and the scooters put together are providing transport only to 20 per cent of people in Delhi. So it is not a solution to the problem of congestion or pollution."
"The small car is worth celebrating as it will help meet the aspirations of a large number of people. But it is not the same as meeting the needs of a large number of people," she says.
She pointed out that Tata makes buses and in Delhi it makes 10 buses a month. So you see where their priorities are.
"We want auto manufacturers to be our heroes. Let them provide solutions for public transport," was her message to Tata and to all other auto manufacturers flaunting their stuff at the auto expo.
Dinesh Mohan of the IIT Delhi goes one step further to actually praise the small car. He says: "Those who oppose it are like dogs in the manger who dont want everyone to have a car they themselves possess. If at all anyone wants clean air, let them give up their big cars and SUVs and their second and third cars.