A few days back, I had made a posting on "Government as Real-Estate Broker". Given the recency of happenings in Singur over the land-acquisition, it was naturally a comment on the role of govt.
However, the post was not about Singur only.... But, first one must look at this news item:
'No Consent for Acquiring 411 Acres of Land'
- KOLKATA: The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government has published a status report on land acquisition in Singur saying that out of a total 997.11 acres of land, the government got prior consent from farmers for 586 acres only on the day it fenced up the land. Another 34 acres is vested land.
Government figures reveal that the administration didn't have consent for acquiring 411.11 acres which constitutes 41.22% of the land acquired — a plausible ground for unrest among peasants and the government's clamping of Section 144 of the CrPC in Singur... (Going by the admission of local administration), the government got consent from the landowners for another 370 acres days within the area was brought under Section 144.
The sudden spurt in giving consent by the farmers seems intriguing because the administration has been negotiating with political parties and panchayats at various levels since May, but without much success. The status report reveals that nine meetings were held at the DM's bungalow in the three-month period between the first meeting held on May 27 and the ninth meeting on September 21, with no progress. Later in mid-September, the meeting venue was shifted to Kolkata but nothing transpired in the meet.
The admission by the government came under pressure from petitioners. Two petitioners are quoted in the same news item:
- "It is clear that there are no details of the project, its cost and benefits, provided also to the gram panchayat and consent of the gram panchayat is also not sought..."
- "In reply to my petition at the Calcutta High Court under the Right to Information Act, the government replied that the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation has requisitioned for the land and there was no mention of the Tata small car project, forget the details. But this shouldn't have been the case. Because the WBIDC has taken loans from the West Bengal Finance Corporation, a government organisation and the people have the right to know where his money is being spent and the details thereof."
Singur, however, is merely a metaphor of what is happening on a large scale in the country. Here is a very small slice of other similar well-known examples:
Delhi's New Master Plan "will have provisions to permit putting up of dwelling units on 27,000 hectare agricultural land that Delhi has in its possession and also provide for easier and relaxed floor area ratio norms for city’s vertical development with necessary no objection certificate from water and power authorities..." (according to State Minister for Urban Development Mr Ajay Maken) "the Delhi’s Master plan will have provisions to allow builders to make multi storied buildings in the agricultural land of Delhi to accommodate the growing needs of housing
A few months back, the UP govt's acquisition of 2,500 acre of agricultural land a power project by a private business led to massive protests by farmers at Dadri, and eventually to police action on protesters.
Earlier this year, the protests of Kalinganagar - and the death of people in police firing - over the acquisition of 13000 acres of tribal/rural land by the Industrial Devt Corp of Orissa took place.
Karnataka govt is planning to acquire 60,691 acres land to hand over to 32 private consortia to build a cluster of five privately built satellite townships around Bangalore. The news reports: "Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who is personally pitching for the estimated Rs 30,000-crore townships project, has sent out the message that the government will not allow any obstacle to stall the project or allow it to go the Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor way."
The list can go on... SEZs, Slum-clearance, Express-Ways, Outer Ring Roads, Mega Dams, etc, etc.
Singur, is just a metaphor... of...
...of "Dispencible People" !!!