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Tata takes Mamata to court over Singur
Kolkata, Jun 22 (Agencies):
Published on 22 Jun. 2011 10:32 PM IST
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Tata Motors has taken Mamata Banerjee's government to court over her decision to reclaim the land at Singur allotted to the company in 2007 for its Nano factory. The Calcutta High Court has begun hearing the case. "Anybody can go to court, it is anybody's democratic right," said Ms Banerjee.
Late last evening, a government notice was pasted at the gate of the Tatas' factory, asking it to vacate the premises. Police then arrived to help local administration officials, who locked the factory gate at 1 am.
The government's action is based on the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Bill, 2011 which was passed on June 14 by the West Bengal Assembly; the Opposition walked out in protest. The bill allows the government to revoke a 99-year lease signed by the Left when it was in power for 997 acres of land.
Tata Motors, in court, described the Bill as "a fraud on the Constitution." Arguing that the Bill is illegal, the company's lawyers said that the government cannot use force to reclaim land.
The court, however, did not agree to the Tatas' request for the land to be kept in the custody of the District Magistrate while the case is heard. At Singur, farmers said they have faith that their land will soon be returned to them by Ms Banerjee.
After repeated protests - some of them violent - by farmers supported by Ms Banerjee's party, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Tata abandoned its plant in October, 2008. By this time, it says, it had invested 1800 crores in the Singur factory and had spent another 440 crores on constructing buildings and adding infrastructure.
Returning 400 acres at Singur to farmers who say they did not want to hand over the land to the government was one of Ms Banerjee's biggest campaign promises.
In the Singur Bill that was passed, Ms Banerjee accused the Tatas of "non-commissioning and abandoning" their project. The company disagrees strongly with this. In a statement earlier this month, Tata Motor said, "The operations of setting up and commissioning of the plant was conducted under very difficult conditions, amidst violence... there being no guarantee of a safe and peaceful environment, Tata had to reluctantly close operations on October 3, 2008."

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