Sajjan Jindal, vice-chairman and managing director of JSW Steel [Get Quote] and one of West Bengal's most valued investors, said that he would have compensated unwilling farmers with double the land � 800 acres � next door in return for land for the Tata Motors [Get Quote] factory at Singur.
Jindal was responding to queries on what he would have done had he been chief minister of West Bengal on the sidelines of an Assocham meeting with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Later he told Business Standard, "I am a farmer's son, I understand their sentiments."
Jindal's project is one of the showpieces of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government, and is often highlighted by the chief minister as the "largest steel plant to be set up in the country".
JSW is setting up a 10-million-tonne plant at Salboni in West Medinipur, a three-hour drive from Kolkata, at a cost of Rs 35,000 crore and had announced a unique land-for-shares package.
Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee lost no time in reacting to Jindal's statement and "saluted" him from the "dharna manch" (protest site) at Singur.
The Trinamool Congress is agitating, which entered its third day, for the return of "400 acres" acquired by the state government by invoking the Land Acquisition Act. The government, however, claims that the dispute is over 305 acres.
Earlier addressing the Assocham meeting, Jindal said, "As far as land acquisition for any project is concerned, Assocham is of the firm view that the farmers whose land is being acquired should not only be given more than adequate compensation but made a stakeholder in the state's industrial development."
Around 90 per cent of the 4,800 acres required for Jindal's project was vested with the state government. For the remaining private land, Jindal announced an exemplary package for the land-losers, which included giving free shares.