Singur Takes to Street over Nano

20080110_tata_nano_78871836_18.jpg”PROMISE IS A PROMISE”, Mr.Ratan Tata, the soft-spoken chairman of the Tata group, said these words to show that they care about the Indian Common Man. Tata Motors launched the one Lac car in the 9th Auto Expo today. Nano is hailed as a revolution in the car industry especially when auto makers around the world are coping with rising prices of raw materials like steel which puts a pressure on the profit margins. The claim is that the quality input is not being sacrificed. However, that does not mean that no sacrifices are being made. Sacrifices come through displacement of 1,50,000 people after Tata comes in action to make this common man happy and says that luxuries are no more expensive and out of one’s reach. These people are from Singur.

Revolts were seen in Singur on January 10 after Tata unveiled the cheapest car. Angry residents burnt replicas of the much hyped, keenly awaited Rs. 1 Lac car as a sign of protest. Anti-Tata demonstrations were carried by them. When Nano will hit the roads from October, it is anticipated that the Singur protest will reacher greater levels and Tata will have to face many problems
Singur is a town in the Hoogly district of West Bengal, a state run by a Communist government. A government, which ideologically should have been of protecting its labourers and peasants, is being knavish to the farmers of Singur and is exploiting them; the government has taken over 997 acres of multi crop land. The land has said to have been taken under Land Acquisition Act of 1894; however, the controversy is that the land has been forcefully taken. Secondly, under the Act, land should be used for government purposes only but here, the land is being acquired for private businesses. The illegality of the acquisition has been substantially conceded by the Kolkata High Court. Whereby, the so-called Communist government slammed this judgment by Article 144 of the Indian Penal Code and declared the judgment by Kolkatta High Court to be illegal.

Soon after this, protest was started by the peasants and Trinamool Congress in that area for Saving Singur. This campaign was joined by social activist Medha Patkar, Anuradha Talwar, author Arundhati Roy and Magsaysay award winner Mahashweta Devi. Even personalities like Sonali Mitra, Aparna Sen and poet Joy Goswami have raised their voice for the cause of Saving Singur. While Noble Laureate Amartya Sen defended the decision of setting up a factory at that location, he opposed forcible acquisition of land. On the other hand, the pro-factory villagers siding with the CPI(M) have made accusations against the Naxalite faction of the ‘Save Singur Farmland Committee’ of threats and violence against them. TATA started setting up their factory in January 2007 and the work is going on even after protest from the locals. Even the government agreed that 30% of the land was taken without the consent of the farmers but it did not specify if they had compensated the farmers or not. Tata Motors have been saying from the beginning that this project will also help the area flourish. Yet critics are pointing out that one of the most fertile areas of Kolkatta will lose its fertility and harm the environment. Furthermore, they say, even though Tata Motors have promised jobs to the locals, not more than thousand people will get employment where locals have been boycotted the training classes.

Nano miracle vs Singur menace. Both are out in the open to the world, it has to decide to support whom.

Anupriya Prakash