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India Inc offers help on Singur land row

January 10, 2007 12:11 IST
The Indian industry on Wednesday offered to play the peacemaker in the land row in West Bengal, parts of which have been witnessing violent protests by farmers against acquisition of land for industrial purposes.

"We are open to discussion with all, including political parties and initiate a debate based on facts if it helps resolve the issue," newly elected Ficci president Habil F Khorakiwala told PTI.

Protests broke out over acquisition of land for Tata Motors car project in Singur and Indonesia-based Salim Group's SEZ project at Nandigram.

Khorakiwala said the industry and government together can convince farmers over land acquisitions if they are paid the market price and the displaced are offered training and jobs.

"We hope that the proposed rehabilitation policy announced by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh would incorporate this principle," he said.

He, however, did not comment on the suggestion made by opposition leader L K Advani to the government on convening an all-party meeting on the controversial issue.

"We cannot deal with an issue which is purely political. We can only give a formula and have discussions," he said.

Quoting the government statistics, the new Ficci chief said for all the hype that is being generated, the industry required only one per cent of the total 162 million hectare arable land.

Of the 237 formally approved SEZs, the total land involved is about 34,500 hectares, whereas India's total land area is 297 million hectares, according to World Bank estimates.
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