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Gopalkrishna Gandhi calls for norms on land acquisition for industries

Friday 22 December 2006

Special Correspondent

Holds discussions with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee; renews appeal to Mamata

Kolkata: West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi met Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the Raj Bhavan here on Thursday to discuss the situation arising out of the indefinite hunger strike by Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, which entered its 18th day.

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Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury
West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi trying to persuade Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee to give up her hunger strike in Kolkata on Thursday.

In a statement after the meeting, Mr. Gandhi said, "It is imperative that a dialogue take place on the balancing of land used for agriculture with land conversion for industries, evolving long-term norms with a clear prioritisation that does not lead to avoidable displacement and human distress." He also suggested that "persons of national eminence and expertise could advise on this norm and that her [Ms. Banerjee’s] suggestions on this subject would be most valuable."

Documents sent by Ms. Banerjee through a party colleague, substantiating allegations that land belonging to a section of the Singur farmers had been acquired by the State Government against their consent, were referred to at the meeting. Industries Minister Nirupam Sen was also present.

Mr. Bhattacharjee has said that 954 of the 997 acres required for the proposed car plant had been acquired with the consent of their owners.

In the morning, Mr. Gandhi met Ms. Banerjee - his second visit after she began her hunger strike - and renewed his appeal to her to end the fast. A similar request was made by Mr. Bhattacharjee in a letter sent through a special emissary.

Mr. Bhattacharjee’s letter, his second in two days, was dismissed by senior Trinamool leader Saugata Roy as "meaningless and without substance." Ms. Banerjee was not well, he added.

Mr. Roy said Ms. Banerjee’s requests that the Government return the land forcibly acquired from the farmers and lift the prohibitory orders at Singur were yet to be addressed.

Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb said there were no immediate plans to lift the prohibitory orders.

Trinamool supporters took out a procession in the city demanding that the State Government fulfil Ms. Banerjee’s requests. Some lay on the road, disrupting traffic movement for a while.

See online : The Hindu

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