MAC: Mines and Communities

India: Tata's Singur land acquisition deal was a farce

Published by MAC on 2016-05-08

It's taken more than eight years - and massive damage has been done.

However, last week, India's Supreme Court threw out a claim by Tata Motors that it had legally acquired land, seized from villagers in West Bengal in 2008, and should therefore be compensated for the return of some of it to villagers.

The farmers were forcibly removed from nearly 1,000 acres of prime agricultural land, but their resistance to the theft earned them considerable local and national suppport.

Tata was bent on building and promoting its so-called Nano car in Singur. The giant steel company was backed by the then-state government and the acquisition endorsed by a Calcutta court.

For previous article on MAC see: Tata land seizure cleared by court

West Bengal: Singur land acquisition deal for Tata-Nano project was a farce, says Supreme Court

While hearing multiple petitions, the top court pulled up the former Left government for not following procedures before handing over the plot to Tata Motors.

7 May 2016

The Supreme Court has pulled up the former West Bengal government led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for rushing through processes to hand over a plot of fertile land in the Singur district for the Tata-Nano project. Calling the land acquisition deal a farce, the court said it was surprised that the Left government had not conducted any survey before acquiring and allotting the land to Tata Motors, Hindustan Times reported.

A two-judge bench on Wednesday heard multiple petitions filed by various parties that challenged the land acquisition deal. The apex court has sought clarifications from the Left government led by former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee for its decision to allot the plot of land to Tata to set up a plant for its Nano car. It also directed the previous state government to explain why an additional 400-acre plot was given to the company, according to The Times of India.

Tata Motors had challenged the constitutional validity of the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, which the Trinamool Congress government had enacted in a bid to return a part of the acquired land. The court had held that the Act constitutional and had also observed that Tata Motors cannot claim compensation if the land was not acquired in accordance with the law.

The Tata Nano project in Singur was widely opposed by displaced farmers, activists and the Trinamool Congress, which was the Opposition party at the time. While the company had made extensive promises, the compensation offered to those displaced was considered inadequate and subsequently led to protests.

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