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West Bengal government mulling legal options as Opposition chides govt. over Tata Motors arbitral win


A private security guard walks outside the closed Tata Motors Nano car factory in West Bengal’s Singur.

A private security guard walks outside the closed Tata Motors Nano car factory in West Bengal’s Singur.
| Photo Credit: REUTERS

While the West Bengal government is mulling legal options after Tata Motors win in arbitral proceedings against the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) for the abandoned car project in Singur, the Trinamool Congress government is also facing scathing attacks from Opposition parties in the State.

State’s Leader of Opposition and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Suvendu Adhikari said that there will be protests if the government decides to pay the award from the State exchequer. Mr. Adhikari said that the award to Tata Motors should be paid from the fund of Trinamool Congress. The LOP wondered if West Bengal Bengal had enough funds to pay the award to Tata Motors. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leadership also spoke on similar lines and asked whether the State government has enough funds to give to Tata Motors.

Tata Motors announced on Monday that it has won the arbitral proceedings, which centred on the loss of its capital, and now the company can recover ₹765.78 crore plus interest from WBIDC.

“State is paying for the arrogance and destructive politics @MamataOfficial and penalties for demolition of a near -complete manufacturing unit along with the dream of jobseekers,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) State Secretary Md. Salim said on social media platform X (formerly Twitter). The CPI(M) leadership has maintained that with the shifting of the Tata small car project of West Bengal, the hopes of industrialisation in the State had died.

CPI(ML) Liberation general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said that nothing could be more absurd, arbitrary and unjust for the people of West Bengal who are now expected to bear an added burden for an abandoned project and wasted agricultural land.

The movement against land acquisition at Singur for the Tata Motors small car in Singur had catapulted Mamata Banerjee to power in 2011. The process of land acquisition started in 2006 and it was met with stiff resistance by Trinamool Congress under the leadership of Ms. Banerjee. The Trinamool chairperson launched an indefinite hunger strike at Esplanade in Kolkata. In 2016, the Supreme Court said that the decision of land acquisition by the Left Front government was bad in law and directed that land be returned to the farmers.

While there was no official word from the State government on what its course of action will be, the leaders of Trinamool Congress gave hints that the government will approach court on the issue.

Minister of Finance Chandrima Bhattacharya said that the State’s Industries and Commerce Department will surely take decisions on the present case. The Minister blamed the Left Front government for the situation and added that the then government was trying to bring a factory on illegally occupied land.

Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy said that award to Tata Motors was not the end of the road for the government.

Despite the Supreme Court order to return land to farmers and the Chief Minister doing the same with much pomp, the ghost of Singur has haunted the Trinamool Congress government for the past 12 years whenever the issue of industrialisation in the State has come up.

The award of arbitration to Tata Motors comes weeks before the Bengal Global Business Summit, 2023 which is an attempt by the Mamata Banerjee-led government to showcase an industry friendly image before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

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