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Farmers in Dharwad eagerly await the Nano plant

Gururaj Jamkhandi in Dharwad | September 27, 2008 14:39 IST

Some farmers in Singur might be vehemently opposed to the acquisition of land for Tata Motors' [Get Quote] Nano car factory.

But in Dharwad, 425 km north of Bangalore, farmers couldn't be more elated at the prospect of the car plant being  relocated on their land.

Most of them can't wait to sell up in this arid region in the Mummigatti-Neeralakatti village Panchayat where  agriculture has been a losing proposition.

The possibility of relocating the mother plant of the world's cheapest car with an annual capacity of 500,000 in Dharwad was strengthened last week when a Tata Motors team led by Managing Director Ravi Kant met Karnataka Chief  Minister B S Yeddyurappa in Bangalore.

The chief minister has reportedly offered to match the tax breaks and other benefits the West Bengal government  had given Tata Motors plus 1,000 acres of land and other facilities.

The Tata group is also likely to be welcomed  in Dharwad because it has been at the centre of the virtuous cycle of industrialisation and job creation in the  area.

In the early 1980s, the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board had acquired 1,500 acres of land near Belur on the Pune-Bangalore national highway.

The initiative was taken by then Industries Minister S R Bommai after the Tata group had shown interest in  setting up a factory in Dharwad.

The state government allotted the company 680 acres of land, but the promised factory did not materialise for unspecified reasons.

It was only through the efforts of a later State Industries Minister, R V Deshpande, that the group set up two units -- Tata Equipment Construction Company and Tata Marcopolo, a joint venture with a Brazilian company. Now, the state government is ready to offer Tata Motors another 1,000 acres of land near these two units.

In the 1980s, the state government had paid farmers Rs 12,000 per acre against a market price of Rs 1,200 per acre.

The Raitha Jagruti Samiti, an association of land losers that was formed, ensured that the compensation reached  the farmers without the intervention of lawyers.

"We are happy with the compensation paid to us. The farmers will be happy to part with another 1,000 acres of  land, provided the KIADB compensates them adequately," said R S Patil, whose lands have been acquired.

Over the period the Tata group has provided employment to technically qualified people among land-loser families.  Members of the families whose lands were not acquired were also accommodated.

"There is no question of opposing the establishment of a Tata unit here. All the farmers want is good  compensation," Patil said.

The present market price of the land here is Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million) to Rs 12 lakh (Rs 1.2 million) per acre and farmers expect around Rs 15 lakh (Rs 1.5 million) per acre. 

Dharwad North MP Prahlad Joshi, who has evinced keen interest in getting the Tatas to Dharwad, said Tata will not  face any Singur-like problems in Dharwad.

"We will take the farmers into confidence while acquiring their lands. It will be a smooth affair because we are  determined to safeguard the interest of farmers," he asserted.

The going may not, however, be so smooth. I B Ambannavar, who has lost a large chunk of land and will be losing  some more in the event of further acquisition, said issues over compensation remain. 

"The KIADB rules regarding land acquisition and payment of compensation are old-fashioned and redundant," he  said.

His chief complaint is that KIADB excludes pot-kharab zameen (that part of the land that is not cultivated) from  compensation. "Farmers want this land to be taken into account," Ambannavar said.

Meanwhile, the Socialist Unity Centre of India has opposed the development of industries on farmers' land. 

"Agricultural land should not be handed over to capitalists. It should not be converted into industrial belt," a  recent statement from this outfit said.

But it has little support from actual land losers. "There are some people and organisations who oppose any project for the sake of opposing it and it has become their habit and business.

It will not have any impact on farmers who are willing to part with their land," said Bheemanna Dindalkopp, a farmer from Neeralakatti village.

Indeed, the supporters of the Nano factory appear to outweigh the detractors. V P Linganagoudar, president of the

Hubli chapter of the Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the chamber would be happy to welcome  Tata's Nano manufacturing unit to Dharwad.

"It will certainly generate huge employment opportunities -- both direct and indirect -- and contribute to the overall growth," Linganagoudar said, urging the chief minister to make all possible efforts to ensure that Tata Motors opts for Karnataka over other contenders like Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra.


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