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Don't act unilaterally, Tata Motors warns Bengal

BS Reporter in Kolkata | September 10, 2008 10:02 IST

Tata Motors Ltd on Tuesday issued a fresh warning to the government of West Bengal saying the state government should not take steps that would upset commitments over the integrated nature of the Nano car factory at Singur in Hugli district, 40 km from Kolkata.

In a strongly-worded letter, Tata Motors [Get Quote] said it would like to be clearly told about any agreement made or commitment given by the government as this could have a bearing on the interest of the company and would violate the government's commitment to the company.

Today's exchange exposed the sharp differences in the understanding of the agreement reached between the government and the opposition under Trinamool Congress in the presence of West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi on September 7 on the issue of compensating farmers who had refused to sell their land for the project.

Tata Motors, which has suspended work at Singur as a result of a two-week protest by the Trinamool Congress, had expressed concern that compensating dissenting farmers from within the factory complex might impact the viability of the project.

West Bengal Commerce and Industries Minister Nirupam Sen then wrote to Tata Motors managing director Ravi Kant assuring him that the government would uphold the integrated nature of the project. On Tuesday, Sen said he had reiterated that assurance.

The key difference lies in the decision on identifying the maximum area inside the 997-acre factory complex that could be returned to farmers.

The difference had arisen because Trinamool Congress sources admitted that neither they nor locals in Singur had any idea of the status of the project work inside the walled-off 997-acre factory premises, and believed that up to 300 acres inside (including part of the vendor park) was still lying untouched and therefore could be returned to "unwilling farmers" for their use.

In contrast, Tata Motors and the government, which enjoyed a free hand inside the factory site, insisted that the factory and vendor park were 85 per cent complete and the two zones could no longer be touched.

The report of a land examination committee that was set up under the September 7 agreement is to be filed at the end of this week and is expected to settle the issue.


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