Residents of Singur in West Bengal's Hooghly district staged protests on Thursday when officials from Tata Motors came scouting for land to set up the manufacturing plant for the company's Rs 100,000-car project.
Villagers, who feared displacement if the project comes up in the area, shouted slogans and expressed anger at the possiblity of their land being acquired by the state government for handing it over to Tata Motors.
The company had last week announced plans for setting up a Rs 1,000-crore (Rs 10 billion) new car manufacturing plant from where it would roll out its common man friendly car.
Following the protest, Tata Motors officials along with the officials of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation left the place.
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya downplayed the incident, saying, "Nothing has happened".
Agricultural Minister Naren De, however, said: "Some villagers met the Tata Motors officials when they visited the area and possibly spoke to them about some of their demands".
De, however, could not say whether it was related to possible loss of their land or compensation they would get for their land. He dismissed reports by a local television that Tata Motors officials were gheraoed by the villagers saying that the team inspected the land as scheduled.
A Tata Motors official simply said, "The company has
Jogesh Chatterjee, IGP (headquarters), said a police team rushed to the spot to prevent trouble from breaking out.
Tata Motors Chairman Ratan Tata announced on May 18 in Kolkata that the company would set up a new plant in West Bengal's Singur village, nearly 30 km from Kolkata, to manufacture their ambitious people's car costing Rs 100,000.
The chief minister had announced that 1,000 acres have been identified in Hoogly district to be handed over to Tata Motors for setting up the plant, which would start production by 2008.
Industry Minister Nirupam Sen has gone on record saying that the site at Singur village has been identified for setting up the new plant because the company wanted a site near Kolkata.
Initially state government offered land to Tata Motor at Kharagpur, bordering Jharkhand, where the company already has some units, but they opted for a location near to Kolkata, he said.
On January 2, Tata Steel's new 12-million tonne steel plant at Kalinganagar in Orissa's Jajpur district had faced a massive agitation by tribals protesting loss of their land resulting in police firing in which 13 were killed.
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