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Buddhadeb goes easy on Nandigram

CNN-IBN
Feb 25, 2007 at 08:53pm IST

New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has said that the people of Nandigram will decide whether or not they want a Chemical hub like Haldia to come up in their area. Speaking to Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN’s show Devil’s Advocate, Buddhadeb said the chemical hub planned for Nandigram could be relocated if the local people opposed it.

"At Singur, we will never go back - it is not possible. If I go back in this case, I will never be able to raise my head. It will send a very wrong message all over the world, all over the country," he said.

"I am sure I will be able to make them (people of Singur) understand why Singur project is necessary for the development of our state."

On the Nandigram Special Economic Zone where the chemical hub is to be developed by Indonesia's Salim Group, Bhattacharjee said it has been put on hold as the local administration "committed a mistake" by taking measures without consulting the local people and the panchayats.

Bhattacharjee said the party units would explain to the people "why it (the project) is necessary and how it will change the economy of Nandigram".

Asked if the people still refused to accept the project, Bhattacharjee said, "If they do not accept, I will not go to Nandigram. I will change the venue".

He said he would take the chemical hub project somewhere else in the State "because I need it" for the West Bengal's development.

Bhattacharjee replied in the affirmative when asked whether the people of Nandigram would have the final word on the project.

To questions about opposition Trinamool Congress charges that there was a controversy over 360 acres of land at Singur, Bhattacharjee asserted that 960 acres of a total of 997 acres had already been "voluntarily handed over" by the land-owners along with their letters of consent.

He said he had checked the allegations made in the Trinamool Congress memorandum to the Governor and there was no substance in the charges. "I stick to my position".

Bhattacharjee claimed the image of his Government had not taken a beating in view of the controversy over land acquisition, though "it will take some time to clear the confusion" created by the administration in Nandigram.

Referring to the importance of the small car project for the state's overall development, he said he had "desperately tried" to convince Tata Group chief Ratan Tata to set up the small car project in West Bengal as the business house was planning to go to Uttaranchal.

Maintaining that the CPI-M had proposed to the UPA Government to amend the 1894 Land Acquisition Act and rules, he said these included the price of land and a rehabilitation policy among other things.

Regarding compensation, Bhattacharjee said about Rs nine lakh were being paid for an acre of single crop land and Rs 12 lakh for multi-crop.

Watch the full interview with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Devil's Advocate at 8:30 pm on Sunday

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