Story in Pictures

Waste land

With the cash-strapped West Bengal government unable to compensate Tata Motors, the struggle over Singur continues

Sandipan Chatterjee

Looks like the drama at Singur is unlikely to end soon. While West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has managed to gain some political mileage by ousting Tata Motors from Singur, the cost of asking the country’s largest vehicle manufacturer by revenues to vacate the land it was allotted is something that the state clearly cannot afford. Though the Supreme Court recently directed Tata Motors to return the land, taken on 99-year lease, to the farmers, the state finance ministry believes the compensation due to Tata Motors will be in the range of ₹1,000 crore — beyond the means of the fund-starved state. The current Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) government had moved the apex court after the Calcutta high court struck down its Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, engineered to reclaim 400 of the 997 acres of land given to Tata Motors on lease by the Left Front government in 2007. Tata had pulled out of Singur in 2008 following protests by the TMC over the 400 acres being allegedly taken from “unwilling farmers”. At the time, the plant was 80% ready and over ₹1,800 crore had already been invested in the project.