Work at the Tata’s singur plant where the much awaited INR 1 lakh car – Nano is being built has come to a halt. Authorities at Tata motors directed its employees not to return to work until further notice, the authorities made this decision after fearing for the safety of its workers amid protests from Trinamool Congress workers and farmers laying siege around the factory.
The protests and controversy surrounding the land acquisition process started when the Marxist government of West Bengal acquired 997 acres of fertile land for Tata motors to build Nano’s manufacturing unit and locate other ancillary units close-by in order to cut costs and meets its target price of $2500 or INR 1 lakh. The West Bengal government under Buddhadev Bhattacharya’s leadership saw this as an opportunity to revive the state’s laggard economy and went all out (sometimes forcefully) to sweep the land from the farmers.
Trinamool congress which leads the protest under the aegis of Krishijami Jiban Jibika Raksha Committee (KJJRC) are demanding the return of 400 acres of land which they allege has been forcibly taken to build the ancillary unit for the Nano project, the protestors have blocked Durgapur Expressway NH 2 costing the highways authority more than INR 25 lakh as toll fees per day, the unconstitutional blockade of the highway has also resulted in critical supplies not reaching west Bengal. The area around the factory has turned into a refugee camp with people cooking, eating and sleeping around the periphery of the factory.
Meanwhile the Tata’s are considering moving out of the state in the wake of aggressive protests. At the company’s general meeting, Ratan Tata is believed to have said ‘We would move, whatever the cost, to protect our people’, the cost involved over here is over $350 million dollars which Tata Motors has already injected into the plant.
Industry bigwigs including Mukesh Ambani and Narayana Murthy has backed Mr Ratan Tata stating that such protests and hindrance would harm country’s image as a place of global investment. This is what Narayana Murthy had to say about the singur plant issue ‘What has happened in Singur is unfortunate for West Bengal, for India and for all progressive Indians’.
In the wake of the ongoing protests for the Nano project, several state governments have come out in support of Mr. Ratan Tata and have offered Mr Tata red-carpet welcome, if he decides to switch base from West Bengal. It will be a big blow to the West Bengal’s failing economy If this project moves away from West Bengal, already the state’s image as an investment hub has taken a beating following incidents at Nandigram where their were plans to set up a chemical hub.