Saturday, September 20, 2008

Interview with Nirupam Sen

“We followed rules. We are now working on a rehabilitation package.” : Nirupam Sen

WITH Tata Motors suspending work at the Nano plant site in Singur and exploring alternative sites outside West Bengal, the prospect of an industrial revival in the State hang by a thread. In an exclusive interview with Frontline on September 3 By SUHRID SANKAR CHATTOPADHYAY , State Industries Minister and Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member NIRUPAM SEN spoke at length on the importance of the project and why it is impossible for the State government to return the 400 acres [one acre is 0.4 hectare] of land to reluctant land-losers, as demanded by Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee.

According to Sen, it is not a question of compensation alone but also one of including the poor people in the region in the industrial process.

Excerpts from the interview, which took place before the two sides held talks at Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s initiative:

Q:What impact will a departure of Tata Motors’ Nano project have on West Bengal?

Nirupam Sen:
It is bad news for West Bengal, but I still see a ray of hope. If we can resolve the issue amicably within a short space of time, we hope to be able to persuade Tata Motors to restart work at the plant site.

From the economic point of view, the automobile industry accelerates growth in the manufacturing sector by acting as a stimulant for the growth of small and medium enterprises manufacturing components. It is not just the small car mother plant that had come but also 55 component manufacturers. The number of people expected to get employment in these enterprises would have been more than double the number of people engaged in the mother plant.

Moreover, other component manufacturers were also showing interest in investing in the State; this, in turn, would have encouraged other automobile manufacturers also to come to the State.
This automobile plant is extremely important in India. Every international player has started looking at India as a destination to set up its unit. At present there are three automobile manufacturing centres in the country, in the north, the south and the west, and it was time for the east, and West Bengal had the opportunity to house this kind of a project, which would have accelerated growth, added to the revenue generation of the State government, and increased the employment potential in the State.

With the entire world looking on with interest at this project, the decision of the Tatas has tarnished the image of not only the State but the whole country. If a project of this kind cannot be implemented in the State, it will have an adverse impact on the minds of the potential investors as well.

Q:Was the State government expecting a decision like this?

Nirupam Sen: Well, Mr Tata was naturally concerned because nobody would want the factory to run under police protection. He had hoped that the people of the State would want a project like the small car factory and there would be a peaceful atmosphere in the workplace.

I can understand his point of view. Any investor would want that.

What is particularly disturbing is that those who are agitating in Singur had promised the State government that they would not indulge in violence, nor impede the activities in the factory. Unfortunately that was not the case. They stopped workers from going into the factory. They blocked the passage of some engineers who had come down from abroad to help in the work, and finally forced Tata Motors to suspend operations.

Q:Has the State government spoken to the Tatas to change their mind and give West Bengal one more chance?

Nirupam Sen: Not yet. Let us resolve the issue first. Attempts are on, and with the Honourable Governor, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, taking the initiative and talking with both the sides to settle the issue, we are hopeful of a positive result soon.

Q:Why is it not possible to return the 400 acres to the unwilling farmers, as demanded by Mamata Banerjee? Could the Tatas not have been persuaded?

Nirupam Sen: It’s not about persuading the Tatas; the question of returning land is a very complicated one. Initially, when the project was conceived, it was done in such a fashion that along with the mother plant, the vendors’ park would be an essential component and would be complementary to the mother plant. The Nano is an extremely price-sensitive car. Therefore, when the planning of the project was done, all the vendors’ and component manufacturers’ exact locations were also determined to the best advantage of the project. Accordingly, vendors were given land allotment. So, when the question arises to returning a portion of that land, it will be tantamount to abandonment of the project itself.

Secondly, even if it is agreed that the land may be returned, the question is whether it is possible to return the land acquired under the Land Acquisition Act to the erstwhile owners. In this case, the verdict of the Supreme Court has made it absolutely clear that this is not possible. The verdict states categorically that once land has been acquired under the Land Acquisition Act, it cannot be returned to the erstwhile owners.

Moreover, the Calcutta High Court has upheld the legality of the land acquisition proceedings in Singur and decided that the land acquired for the Tata project is an acquisition for a public purpose. Though the judgment has been challenged in the Supreme Court, until and unless the Supreme Court turns it down, the High Court verdict stands. But, going back to the main point, even legally, whichever government may be in power, it cannot return the land to its erstwhile owners.

There is another important aspect involved in this: of the total land-losers in the acquisition of 997 acres, those who have refused compensation are being called ‘unwilling land-losers’; there is no such term in the Land Acquisition Act. There is no provision in the Act to take into consideration who is willing and who is not. At the time of notification for land acquisition, farmers were allowed to express their points of view at the hearings; we have followed all the rules, never once deviating from the legal path.

But, for the sake of argument, let us take into consideration the ‘unwilling farmers’; the point now is, is their land in a contiguous area or on one side of the location? No. It is spread over the entire site, as the map I have given you clearly shows, and to return such land, as I have said, would mean abandoning the project.

Let us say, for the sake of argument, that we return the land to the unwilling farmer. In order to do that we have to give him access to his own land, and for that we have to take other land also. Is that feasible?

I’d like to make another point. So, we cannot return to the unwilling land-losers the land they held; but we can add up the total amount of land, and that amount we can give to them from a portion of the land in one corner of the site. In other words, we take the land of A, who has taken the compensation, and give it to B, who has refused compensation, taking into account the fact that after the construction of the factory the price of land has shot up.

Would that be morally justifiable? What answer will the government give to the man who gave his land willingly for compensation only to see it handed over to another who has defied the law, and particularly when the value of the land has increased so very much? If they (the ‘willing’ farmers) knew this is what would happen, they would not have agreed to part with their land in the first place. Such a thing would jeopardise the entire land acquisition process and set a precedent that would impact not only the State but the country as a whole.

Q:So what were the alternatives?

Nirupam Sen: First, let us get one thing clear: what is the main issue here? It is whether the government is serious about protecting the economic interests of those who lose their land; whether they are being thrown out or being included in the process of development. In this particular case, the State government has all along been willing to consider all the proposals by which we can protect the interests of those land-losers – particularly the marginal farmers and sharecroppers. It can be through the provision of jobs and through other kinds of activities such as skill-upgradation programmes, and even providing help to set up some kind of business. If your interest is to protect the livelihood of the people in the region, then there is enough scope to do so; and I say they should have a better livelihood after this industrialisation.

Q:Did you consider hiking the compensation?

Nirupam Sen: First, the price given to farmers at the time of land acquisition was considerably higher than the market price at that time. The price of the best land there, just by the National Highway, was not more than Rs.2 lakh an acre then, but we gave much more than that. But it would be wrong to compare it with today’s price because after the Tatas started setting up their factory, the price has shot up.

Secondly, I don’t think merely compensation is enough. I believe there should also be a rehabilitation programme. Whatever be the compensation, it is important that an alternative means of livelihood also be provided; we have been working on that right from the day we started acquiring the land. Almost simultaneously, we issued an advertisement in newspapers inviting applications from employable members of the families of land-losers. More than 3,000 people responded, over 500 of them women and 500 agricultural labourers. They have been provided with different kinds of training; in fact, already more than 1,000 people of the area earn their livelihood from working in that particular plant. So, even before production, so many people have gained employment there.

Not only that, if you look at the local economy, it is evident how much it has grown since the construction work started at the plant site. Branches of banks have come up; recently in a fair organised in the region by Maruti, the company sold 20 cars in one day in Singur alone. A number of motorised rickshaw vans have replaced cycle rickshaws and handcarts; so many people are engaged in supplying different kinds of construction materials – sand, bricks, stone chips.

Self-help groups have emerged. While 40 women have been provided sewing machines, 25 women run a canteen. As many as 350 boys are being given advanced training so that they can be employed in the factory itself. So, you can see there is quite a huge growth in economic activities in the Singur area. All these activities have taken place at the initiative of the State government to rehabilitate the people of the region.

Even after all these efforts if it was brought to our notice that someone had been left out, we were committed to protecting their interests as well. Even if there was no one employable in a particular family for any number of reasons, and there was no other means for them to survive than through land, we were ready to provide relief and assistance to them. We are open to any new ideas.

Q:Is the State government coming up with any plan regarding its land acquisition policy to avoid such fiascos in the future?

Nirupam Sen:
We are now working on a rehabilitation package. Wherever we want to acquire land we discuss with the local people and try to evolve a package. Every industry has its own specific nature, as does every area.

While we cannot compare one with another, there should be certain common features in the rehabilitation package offered. We are working on that. In fact, recently we had a workshop involving economists, social scientists and the chambers of commerce, where we exchanged views and ideas.

We are also continuously discussing among ourselves, with our Left Front partners. We will come out with a publication once we arrive at a comprehensive consensus.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A BRIEF CHRONOLOGY (1977-2007)-Three Decades: Major Events


JUNE 21: The Left Front Government, headed by Jyoti Basu, assumes power. Governor A L Dias administers Basu and his ministerial colleagues the oath of office. Decision of releasing the political prisoners at the first meeting of the cabinet.
JUNE 24: The first session of the newly formed Assembly starts.
JUNE 26: Victory rally of Left Front at the Brigade Parade Ground, Kolkata.
JULY 2: Unanimous decision of State Cabinet in favour of regional autonomy status for Darjeeling within the state periphery.
JULY 10: Chief Minister Jyoti Basu apprises Prime Minister Morarji Desai in Delhi of problems West Bengal faces.
JULY 30-31: Chief Ministers' conference in Delhi. Jyoti Basu speaks at the session on the first day.
AUGUST 19: Chief Minister Jyoti Basu speaks at the joint meeting of four chambers of commerce.
AUGUST 23: Chief Minister Jyoti Basu discusses Haldia Petrochemicals with H N Bahuguna, the Union Minister for Chemicals and Petroleum.
SEPTEMBER 29: The West Bengal Land (Amendment) Bill passed in the Assembly.
OCTOBER 3: Indira Gandhi arrested by CBI, released the next day.
OCTOBER 6: 8.33% bonus for the State Government employees gets official nod. OCTOBER 13: Decision for establishing the Urdu Academy taken.
OCTOBER 15: The Left Front Committee submits its recommendation to the State Government for the Panchayat election in March, 1978.
NOVEMBER 6: Tribhuban Narayan Singh assumes the office of the
Governor of West Bengal.
NOVEMBER 16: The State Government forms Pay Commission for its employees.
NOVEMBER 18: Elaborate guideline on legitimacy of recording the names of sharecroppers published.
NOVEMBER 21: The Left Front Committee decides upon initiating a nationwide debate on centre-state relationship.
DECEMBER 1: Draft on centre-state relationship accepted by the state cabinet. DECEMBER 8: Chief Minister Jyoti Basu writes to the Chief Ministers of certain states to consider re-orientation of Centre-State relations.


FEBRUARY 9 : Discussion on re-orientation of centre-state relations between West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu and Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Sheikh Abdullah in Kolkata.
MARCH 18-19: Chief Minister Jyoti Basu addresses the meeting of the National Development Council.
MARCH 23: Debate at the State Legislative Assembly on the refugee influx from Dandakaranya.
MARCH 25: A proposal demanding reorientation of Centre-State relations accepted in the West Bengal State Assembly.
MARCH 30: Chief Minister Jyoti Basu meets Prime Minister Morarji Desai in New Delhi to discuss the issue of the refugees from Dandakaranya.
APRIL 11: Chief Minister's appeal to the refugees from Dandakaranya issued.
MAY 2: Students Union election takes place in Calcutta University after a gap of eight years.
JUNE 4 : Landslide victory of the Left Front in the three-tier panchayat election of the state.
JUNE 26 : The State Government takes the decision of sending the Dandakaranya refugees back.
JULY 4 : The State Cabinet takes the decision of reducing the voting age in the municipal election from 21 years to 18 years.
SEPTEMBER 2 : Heavy rainfall starts. The state, especially southern Bengal, witnesses massive inundation over the period of a month and a half, the most devastating flood of the century.
SEPTEMBER 26 : Heavy rainfall starts in Kolkata, too. The state capital encounters unprecedented flood.
OCTOBER 22 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu places a memorandum before Prime Minister Morarji Desai, stating the extent of loss due to flood, and seeks financial assistance. DECEMBER 5 : West Bengal College Service Commission Bill passed in the Assembly.
DECEMBER 8 : An unofficial proposal for insertion of the Right to Work in the Indian Constitution accepted in the State Assembly.


JANUARY 31 : Police attacked by the Marichijhanpi occupants.
MAY 16 : Police drives out the illegal occupants from Marichjhanpi.
JULY 11 : Opposition leader YB Chavan moves No confidence Motion against
the Morarji Desai Government in Lok Sabha.
JULY 15 : Fall of the Morarji Desai Government at the centre.
JULY 28 : Charan Singh becomes Prime Minister.
AUGUST 20 : Charan Singh resigns as Congress (I) withdraws support; President dissolves the Parliament.
AUGUST 30 : The West Bengal Land (Farm Holding) Holding Revenue Bill 1979 accepted in the West Bengal State Legislative Assembly.
SEPTEMBER 13 : West Bengal Government Library Bill accepted in the State Legislative Assembly.
SEPTEMBER 18 : West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (Amendment) Bill accepted in the Assembly.
SEPTEMBER 20 : Calcutta University Bill accepted in the Assembly.
SEPTEMBER 27 : State Chief Minister Jyoti Basu addresses the Chief Ministers' conference in New Delhi.
OCTOBER 8 : Demise of Jai Prakash Narayan in Patna.
OCTOBER 26 : Announcement of the date of Parliament election.
DECEMBER 24 : The State Government undertakes the Technicians' Studio.


JANUARY 3-6 : Congress (I) assumes power again.
JANUARY 14 : Indira Gandhi takes oath of office as Prime Minister.
JANUARY 20 : The State Government declares school education up to Class X free.
JANUARY 21 : Left Democratic Front wins Kerala Assembly elections as E K Nainar becomes Chief Minister, Left Front holds victory rally at Brigade Parade Ground, Kolkata.
JANUARY 26 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu inaugurates Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Institute for Asian Studies.
FEBRUARY 2 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu speaks at the inauguration of the 67th session of Indian Science Congress at the Jadavpur University.
FEBRUARY 18 : The Centre dissolves assemblies of nine states.
FEBRUARY 22 : A censure motion, reacting to the Centre's dissolution of nine state assemblies, accepted in the West Bengal Assembly.
APRIL 1 : A proposal on the Assam situation passed in West Bengal Assembly.
APRIL 27 : Central Citizens' Convention held in demand of sustaining the federal structure.
MAY 6: Calcutta Municipal Corporation Bill accepted in the Assembly.
MAY 27: Codes of conduct, so far binding upon the State Government employees,
invalidated and the full trade union rights, including the right to call and observe strikes, granted.
JUNE 11: The Confidential Report system in State Government service gets done away with.
JUNE 23: Sanjay Gandhi dies in air crash.
JUNE 30: State Cabinet takes the decision of bifurcating 24 Parganas into two separate districts, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas.
JULY 5: West Bengal Colour Film and Sound Laboratory Corporation Limited founded. JULY 10: Chief Minister Jyoti Basu speaks on the occasion of the celebration of 150 years of the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce.
SEPTEMBER 2: A proposal for demanding approval of the centre for Haldia Petrochemicals passed in the West Bengal Assembly.
SEPTEMBER 23: National Security Ordinance promulgated by the Union Government. DECEMBER 1: The amended West Bengal Scheduled Caste and Tribal Development and Financial Corporation Act comes into force.


JANUARY 10 : West Bengal Government declares free education up to class XII. FEBRUARY 5 : The Government of West Bengal seeks approval of the Centre for setting up a state-owned bank.
MAY 31: Election held for 89 municipalities of the state with lowest adult franchise age of 18 years.
JUNE 16 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu writes to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi demanding an electronic complex at Salt Lake.
JULY 27 : The Union Government issues ESMA to ban strikes in organizations delcared essential.
SEPTEMBER 9 : The Communist Party of India, the Democratic Socialist Party and the West Bengal Socialist Party join the Left Front.
SEPTEMBER 12 : Bhairav Dutt Pandey takes charge as the Governor of West Bengal.
SEPTEMBER 23 : A proposal accepted in the State Assembly in favour of autonomy in Darjeeling hill area.
SEPTEMBER 29 : The Vidyasagar University founded.
NOVEMBER 30 : Howrah Municipal Corporation Act 1980 comes into effect.
DECEMBER 2 : The Calcutta Municipal Corporation Bill, passed in the West Bengal Assembly on May 6, 1981 gets the Presidential nod.


JANUARY 6 : Decision taken in the State Cabinet to complete the Assembly elections by March 15.
FEBRUARY 13 : The Calcutta High Court imposes stay on publication of voters' list in West Bengal.
FEBRUARY 19 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu meets Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at the national capital to discuss the issue of election.
MARCH 5: The Supreme Court dismisses the Calcutta High Court's decision on
publication of the voters' list.
MARCH 20: Paschimbanga Rajya Sangeet Academy starts functioning.
MARCH 29–APRIL 5 : Huda (Purulia) to Kolkata rally in support of the 16-point demand of the state to the centre.
APRIL 7: Election Commission declares that assembly polls would be held in West Bengal on May 19.
MAY 6: Order for foundation of the Institute of Local Government & Urban Studies issued.
MAY 19: Polls for West Bengal Assembly held. Nine-party Left Front wins 238 seats out of total 294.
MAY 26: Second Left Front Government, under the leadership of Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, sworn in.
JUNE 2: Formation of the Environment Department in the Government of West Bengal. JULY 25 : Jail Singh sworn in as the President of India.
SEPTEMBER 23 : Biggest peace rally in Kolkata.
OCTOBER 14 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu meets Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and places the State Government's demand for draught relief.
NOVEMBER 29 : Left Front Chairman Pramode Dasgupta dies in the Chinese capital, Beijing.
DECEMBER 7 : All-party meeting in condolence of Left Front chairman Pramode Dasgupta at the Brigade Parade Ground. Saroj Mukherjee takes over as the next Left Front Chairman.


MARCH 7-12 : Summit of the seventh Non-Alignment Movement held in New Delhi. MARCH 24 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu submits the Charter of Demand to the Eighth Finance Commission.
MAY 31 : Second Panchayat election in the state held.
JUNE 7 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu speaks on the occasion of the inauguration of colour telecasting from Kolkata Doordarshan Kendra.
JUNE 9 : Sarkaria Commission formed to look into various aspects of Centre-State relations.
JUNE 25 : India win Cricket World Cup.
OCTOBER 5-7: Conference of Several opposition parties and Chief Ministers of four non-Cong (I)-ruled states such as West Bengal, Tripura, Jammu & Kashmir and Karnataka. Chief Minister Jyoti Basu Finance Minister Ashok Mitra represent West Bengal.
OCTOBER 10 : Ananta Prasad Sharma takes over as the Governor of West Bengal.
DECEMBER 18 : Demise of Prafulla Chandra Ghosh, the first Chief Minister of West Bengal.
DECEMBER 22 : Felicitation of the delegates of the World Peace Council at Rabindra Sadan.


JANUARY 4: Calcutta Municipal Corporation Act 1980 comes into force.
JANURARY 13-15: Conference of non-Congress (I) parties and Chief Ministers belonging to opposition parties in Kolkata. Rally at the Brigade Parade ground. Speakers include Jyoti Basu, NT Rama Rao, Ramakrishna Hegde, Farookh Abdullah,
Chandra Shekhar, EMS Namboodiripad and others.
JANUARY 16: Jute mill workers' strike, which lasted for 84 days, starts.
FEBRUARY 19 - March 15: Walk from Cooch Behar to Kolkata.
APRIL 10: Chief Minister Jyoti Basu writes a letter to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi demanding approval of the Bakreswar Thermal Power Project.
APRIL 13: Anti-war peace rally and meeting in Kolkata.
APRIL 30: Report of the Eighth Finance Commission submitted.
JUNE 6: Operation Blue Star. The Golden Temple of Amritsar freed from terrorist
JUNE 17: Chief Minister Jyoti Basu writes to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi urging her to call West Bengal Governor Ananta Prasad Sharma back.
JULY 2: Centre dismisses the Farookh Abdullah Government of Jammu & Kashmir.
JULY 8: Howrah Municipal Corporation goes to polls for the first time. The Left Front
JULY 10: Centre issues White Paper on the Punjab situation.
JULY 12: In protest against the dismissal of Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Farookh Abdullah, West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu walks out from the meeting of the National Development Council along with the Chief Ministers of Tripura, Andhra
Pradesh and Karnataka.
AUGUST 15 : Governor Ananta Prasad Sharma resigns.
AUGUST 16 : Satish Chandra takes charge as the Governor of West Bengal. SEPTEMBER 20 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu addresses victory celebration in Hyderabad.
OCTOBER 1 : Umashankar Dikshit takes charge as the Governor of West Bengal.
OCTOBER 19 : Distinguished leftist leader and former State Cabinet Minister
Somenath Lahiri passes away.
OCTOBER 24 : Metro Rail flagged off along the route from Esplanade to
OCTOBER 31 : Prime Minister Indira Gandhi assassinated at her residence by a couple of her bodyguards. Violence erupts almost all over the country. Rajiv Gandhi takes over as the Prime Minister.
NOVEMBER 6 : Massive solidarity rally in Kolkata.
NOVEMBER 19 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu places his recommendations before the Sarkaria Commission.
DECEMBER 3 : Thousands of people wriggle to death in gas leak disaster in Union Carbide factory at Bhopal.
DECEMBER 24-28 : Parliament election held. Congress wins record number of 415 seats. In West Bengal, Left Front wins 26 seats, Congress bags 16 out of 42.
DECEMBER 31 : Rajiv Gandhi sworn in as the Prime Minister of India.


MAY 11 : Inauguration of Salt Lake Electronics Industrial Unit by Chief Minister Jyoti Basu.
MAY 22 : An agreement signed between West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and RPG Company on setting up the Haldia Petrochemicals Project.
JUNE 30 : First-time poll for Kolkata Corporation under new rule. The Left Front comes out victorious.
AUGUST 29-30 : Challenge of Education: A Policy Perspective is submitted
to the Union Government at the conference of Education Ministers in New Delhi. SEPTEMBER 2 : Inauguration of Nandan, the West Bengal Film Centre.
NOVEMBER 8-9 : Draft of the Seventh Five-year Plan
approved in the meeting of the National Development Council. Chief Minister Jyoti Basu speaks on the occasion.
NOVEMBER 30 : Institute of Wetland Management and Ecological Design founded. (The institute came under the jurisdiction of the State Environment Department on April 1, 1998).


JANUARY 23-24 : Challenge of Education: A Policy Perspective finalized at the conference of Education Ministers in New Delhi.
MARCH 1 : The district of 24 Parganas is bifurcated into two equi-status separate
districts, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas.
MAY 20 : Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi comes into being.
JUNE 15 : Election for 75 municipalities of West Bengal held.
AUGUST 12 : Syed Nurul Hasan takes charge as the Governor of West Bengal. SEPTEMBER 18-20 : Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visits West Bengal. State Chief Minister Jyoti Basu discusses on various projects of West Bengal with the Prime Minister.


JANUARY 29 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu starts for Bangladesh tour.
FEBRUARY 1 : Basu returns from Bangladesh.
MARCH 23 : Tenth Assembly election in West Bengal. The Left Front registers landslide victory.
MARCH 31 : The third Left Front Government, headed by Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, sworn in.
APRIL 25 : Non-Congress Chief Ministers' meet held in New Delhi. Participants : Jyoti Basu (West Bengal), Nripen Chakarborty (Tripura), E K Nainer (Kerla), NT Rama Rao (Andhra Pradesh), Ramakrishna Hegde (Karnataka) and Surjit Singh Barnala (Punjab). SEPTEMBER 8 : Bangiya Saksharata Prasar Samiti set up on the World
Literacy Day.
SEPTEMBER 26 : Paschimbanga Natya Academy founded.
NOVEMBER 14 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu inaugurates the Yuva Bharati Krirangan at Salt Lake.


FEBURARY 28 : The third panchayat election in West Bengal held.
A huge mandate in favour of the Left Front.
AUGUST 22 : Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council agreement signed in Kolkata.
AUGUST 30 : Centre tables Defamation Bill in the Lok Sabha in the
context of Bofors Scam.
SEPTEMBER 6 : Newspapers strike in relation to the Defamation Bill.
SEPTEMBER 22 : Centre does away with the Defamation Bill.
SEPTEMBER28 : Foundation stone of the Bakreswar Thermal
Power Station laid. DECEMBER 13 : The first election of the
Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. The GNLF wins.


JANUARY 28 : Non-Congress Chief Ministers' meet held in Kolkata.
MARCH 2 : T V Rajeswar takes charge as the Governor of West Bengal.
APRIL 3 : Chief Miniter Jyoti Basu inaugurates the Panchayati Raj
conference of eastern and north-eastern states in Kolkata.
JULY 21 : Harideo Joshi takes charge as the Governor of West Bengal.
AUGUST 14 : T V Rajeswar once again takes charges as the Governor of West
AUGUST 30 : All India strike on Bofors gun deal issue.
NOVEMBER 22 : Ninth general election commences.
DECEMBER 2 : National Front Government, under the
leadership of Vishwanath Pratap Singh, assumes office at the Centre.


JANUARY 10 : Left Front Chairman Saroj Mukherjee passes away. Sailen Dasgupta takes over.
FEBRUARY 7 : Syed Nurul Hasan takes over as the Governor of West Bengal. MARCH 28 : PLO Supremo Yasser Arafat given public felicitation at the Netaji Indoor Stadium.
APRIL 15-21 : West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu visits Vietnam as the head of the Indian delegation on the occasion of Ho Chi Minh's birth centenary.
MAY 27 : 75 municipalities of 14 districts of the state go to polls.
JULY 7 : Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh implements the Mondal Commission recommendation of reserving 27% posts for the backward classes.
AUGUST 13 : The Union Government issues order in regard to the implementation of the Mondal Commission recommendations.
OCTOBER 18 : Public felicitation of Nelson Mandela in presence of West Bengal
Governor Syed Nurul Hasan and Chief Minister Jyoti Basu at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
NOVEMBER 7 : Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh resigns.
NOVEMBER 18 : Chandrashekhar becomes Prime Minister with the support of the Indian National Congress.


JANUARY 5 : K V Raghunatha Reddy appointed the Governor of West Bengal. JANUARY 17 : Gulf war breaks out.
JANUARY 25 : Syed Nurul Hasan appointed Governor of West Bengal.
MARCH 6 : Indian National Congress withdraws support. Chandrashekhar steps down as Prime Minister.
MARCH 31 : West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu speaks on 'Democracy, Federal System and Section 356 of the Constitution' at a seminar arranged by the Indian School of Social Science, Madras.
MAY 20–JUNE 15 : General election takes place. In West Bengal, the assembly election, too, held on May 20 alongside the Parliamentary election.
MAY 21: Rajiv Gandhi dies off a bomb explosion at an election rally at Shri Perumbudur in Tamil Nadu.
JUNE 21 : Indian National Congress comes back to power at the Centre. P V Narasimha Rao assumes the office of Prime Minister.
JUNE 25 : In West Bengal, Jyoti Basu sworn in as the Chief Minister of the fourth Left Front Government.
NOVEMBER 29 : All-India general strike observed in protest against the new liberal economic policy adopted by the centre.


JANUARY 4: Md. Safi Kureshi takes charge as the Governor of West Bengal. JANUARY 16: Freight Equalisation Policy partly withdrawn by the Centre.
JANUARY 25: Syed Nurul Hasan appointed Governor of West Bengal.
APRIL 1: West Dinajpur district is bifurcated into two equi-status separate districts, Uttar Dinajpur and Dakshin Dinajpur.
APRIL 23: Satyajit Ray breathes his last after prolonged illness.
MAY 26: Teen Bigha handed over.
JUNE 22: State Women's Commission formed.
JULY 25: Shankar Dayal Sharma sworn in as the ninth President of India.
AUGUST 11: K R Narayanan becomes the Vice President of India
OCTOBER 20: Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao inaugurates the Vidyasagar Setu in Kolkata.
OCTOBER 29: Md. Safi Qureshi appointed the Governor of West Bengal.
NOVEMBER 30: Syed Nurul Hasan appointed the Governor of West Bengal. DECEMBER 6: Babri Mosque demolished.


JANUARY 26: Statewide 'Human Chain' programme in support of communal harmony. APRIL 13 : A memorandum signed by more than three crore people, appealing for communical harmony and national unity, submitted to the President of India.
APRIL 23: The Panchayati Raj Act accepted in the Parliament through
the 73rd amendment of the Constitution.
MAY 5–7: International seminar on 'Relevance of Marxism in a changed World' held in Kolkata. The communist parties from 18 different countries participate in the seminar.
MAY 30: Fourth panchayat election in the state. Reservation for women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes introduced. Left Front comes out victorious with a big margin.
JUNE 22: Draft Joint Parliamentary Committee Report on share scam leaked.
JULY 12: Syed Nurul Hasan, the Governor of West Bengal, passes away.
JULY 13: B Satyanarayan Reddy takes charge of Governor of West Bengal.
JULY 21: Violence engulfs Kolkata as a youth outfit gives the call of Writers' Buildings's seizure. JULY 26 : No Confidence Motion in Lok Sabha against the P. V. Narasimha Rao Government.
AUGUST 14: K V Raghunatha Reddy appointed as the Governor of West Bengal. SEPTEMBER 9: Leftist parties call all-India general strike in protest against the share scam.
OCTOBER 2: Chief Minister Jyoti Basu meets Cuban President Fidel Castro at Havana.
DECEMBER 3–9: Countrywide postal strike.
DECEMBER 7–10: Observance of National Protest Week against the Dunkel proposal. DECEMBER 9: Leftist leaders march to the Parliament House on protest against the alleged concessions of the Union Government to the Dunkel proposals.
DECEMBER 15: Observance of nationwide kaala divas against GATT.
DECEMBER 21: Joint Parliamentary Committee Report on share scam submitted. DECEMBER 31: Second term election of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.


JANUARY 7: Report of the Malhotra Committee, counselling for privatization in the banking and insurance sector, tabled.
JANUARY 12: 'Cease work' for two hours in insurance sector in protest against the report of Malhotra Committee.
JANUARY 19: Conference of Chief Ministers in New Delhi to discuss the issue of voter
identity cards.
FEBRUARY 11: A proposal with the directive of abstaining from execution of the Dunkel proposal accepted in the West Bengal Assembly.
APRIL 4: Rally in Kolkata against GATT agreement.
APRIL 8 : Countrywide strike in banking and insurance sectors.
APRIL 13 : 'Human wall' in protest against GATT.
APRIL 13-15 : GATT is finalized at a meeting held at Marakesh in Turkey.
MAY 4: Chief Minister Jyoti Basu
starts for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
JULY 13: The West Bengal Municipal Act 1993 comes into force.
JULY 14: Nearly 23 lac workers of the public sector join hands in strike.
JULY 26: Union Government tables in Lok Sabha the Action Taken Report on the Joint Parliamentary Committee Report on share scam.
AUGUST 17: Union Government withdraws the Action Taken Report.
SEPTEMBER 23 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu places a policy statement regarding the perspective plan of industrialization in West Bengal at the State Assembly. SEPTEMBER 29 : Countrywide general strike and hartal observed at the call of All-India forum of 56 mass organizations.


JANUARY 2: Foundation of the University of Animal and Fisheries Sciences. JANUARY 30: West Bengal State Human Rights Commission comes into existence. This becomes the first ever state-level human rights commission in the country.
MAY 28: Election for 75 municipalities of the state held.
JUNE 5: StateGovernment proclaims the policy of action on ecological upkeeping and conservation of natural resouces.
JUNE 19-23: Telecom workers join together in a countrywide strike.
JULY 8 : The first electron in Bidhannagar Municipality held. The mandate goes in favour of the Left Front.
JULY 9 : The Left Front comes out winners in the election to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
SEPTEMBER 22–24: Asia-pacific Cuba Solidarity Conference convened in Kolkata. OCTOBER 12: Inauguration of the Madhusudan Mancha in Kolkata.
DECEMBER 18 : Loads of sophisticated firearms dropped in Purulia.


JANUARY 8: West Bengal Minority Development and Finance Corporation set up. APRIL 27: The eleventh general election commences. Polls on April 27, May 2, 7 and 21.
MAY 2: The twelvth Assembly election commences. Left Front retains power in West Bengal.
MAY 10: Formation of 13-party United Front in New Delhi. The constituent parties : Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, All India Forward Bloc, Revolutionary Socialist Party, Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, Telegu Desham, Tamil Manila Congress, Assam Gana Parishad, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham, Congress (Tewari), Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Republican Party. Indian National Congress supported the front from outside.
MAY 16 : At the Centre, BJP-led Government, headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee, sworn in.
MAY 20 : The fifth Left Front Government, headed by Jyoti Basu, takes oath of office. MAY 28 : No-confidence Motion in Parliament. Atal Behari Vajpayee resigns.
MAY 30 : State Minority Development and Welfare Department starts functioning.
JUNE 1 : At the centre, United Front Government, headed by H D Devegouda, sworn in.
JUNE 30 : Laying of foundation stone of the folk cultural village at Chhit Kalikapur. AUGUST 30 : West Bengal Minority Commission starts functioning as a statutory body. SEPTEMBER 15 : Tourism Policy of West Bengal announced.
SEPTEMBER 20 : Jyoti Basu unveils statue of Rabindranath Tagore at the birthplace of William Shakespeare in the United Kingdom.
NOVEMBER 18 : Eminent singer Pit Segar meets Chief Minister Jyoti Basu at the Writers' Buildings.
NOVEMBER 27 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, accompanied by state Information
& Cultural Affairs Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Finance Minister Asim K Dasgupta, starts for Bangladesh.
DECEMBER 2 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu comes back from Bangladesh tour while state Information & Cultural Affairs Minister Buddhadeb Bhattarcharjee and Finance Minister Asim K Dasgupta stay back for the next legs of the talks with the Bangladesh Government.
DECEMBER 12 : The historic Water Treaty signed between India and Bangladesh in New Delhi.

JANUARY 23 : Birth centenary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose observed.
APRIL 11 : H.D. Devegouda Government falls as the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party refuse to go to bat for the Government any more.
APRIL 21 : I K Gujral sworn in as the Prime Minister of the United Front Government
at the centre.
JULY 7 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu inagurates book exhibition organized jointly by the
Federation of Indian Publishers and the National Book Trust of India at the Nehru Centre, London.
JULY 22–30 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu visits South Africa.
JULY 25 : K R Narayanan takes over as the President of India.
AUGUST 15 : Golden Jubilee of Indian Independence observed.
AUGUST 20 : Netaji Subhas Open University founded.
NOVEMBER 28 : Prime Minister I K Gujral resigns as Congress withdraws support.
DECEMBER 4 : The president dismisses the Parliament.


FEBRUARY 16–23 : Parliament election held.
MARCH 19 : The Central Cabinet, headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, takes the oath of office.
APRIL 9 : Violence unleashed at Kespur in Medinipur.
APRIL 27 : A R Kidwai appointed the Governor of West Bengal.
MAY 11 : Experimental atomic explosion conducted at Pokhran.
MAY 13 : The second experimental atomic explosion at Pokhran.
MAY 28 : Panchayat election in the state. Left Front registers victory.
AUGUST 5 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu speaks on 'India in the 21st Century—A Vision' at the Nehru Centre, London.
OCTOBER 14 : Amartya Sen wins the Nobel Prize in economics.
NOVEMBER 13 : Chief Minister Jyoti Basu delivers the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial speech in New Delhi. He spoke on 'India and the Challenges of the 21st Century'. DECEMBER 11 : Countrywide general strike against the neo-liberal economic policy of the Central Government.


FEBRUARY 20 : Convention of the non-Congress opposition parties under the initiative of the leftists.
MARCH 4 : Enforcement of the West Bengal Municipal (Buildings) Rules, 1996. APRIL 17 : NDA fails to win Confidence Vote in the Lok Sabha. The Union Government falls. APRIL 26 : President K R Narayanan dismisses Parliament.
MAY 17 : A R Kidwai resigns from the post of the Governor of West Bengal.
MAY 18 : Shyamal Kr Sen takes charge as the Governor of West Bengal.
JUNE 21 : Left Front tenders demand for formalizing the use of the name "Kolkata" instead of "Calcutta".
SEPTEMBER 5–25 : General elections held.
OCTOPBER 13 : Atal Beheri Vajpayee sworn in as Prime Minister as the National Democratic Alliance comes back to power.
OCTOBER 26 : Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee becomes the Deputy Chief Minister of West
Bengal. This was for the first and so far the last time such a post was created during the Left Front regime.
DECEMBER 4: Biren J Shah becomes the Governor of West Bengal.


JANUARY 1: The State Government announces its policy on information technology. FEBRUARY 21: Production starts in the Haldia Petrochemicals.
FEBRUARY 29: Chief Minister Jyoti Basu asks Union Raliways Minister Mamata Banerjee to increase the load of work orders for Chittaranjan Locomotive.
MARCH 9: The national fourm of the leftist mass organizations marches to the Parliament House to register protest against the economic policy of the Union Government.
MARCH 30: Proposal for formation of the Uttar Banga Unnayan Parshad passed in the Assembly.
APRIL 2: Inauguration of the Haldia Petrochemicals.
APRIL 20: Foundation of the Roopkala Kendro.
APRIL 22: Foundation of the West Bengal National Law University.
APRIL 24: The Union Government places the Bill for privatization of coal mines. The left parties register strong protest.
MAY 16: Chief Minister places the demands of the state before the Prime Minister. MAY 18: Paschimanchal Parshad is formed with 73 blocks of 13 sub-divisions spread over five districts—Purulia, Bankura, Paschim Medinipur, Birbhum and Bardhaman. MAY 30: Elections in 79 municipalities of West Bengal held. The Left Front wins most of the seats.
JUNE 25: TMC-BJP alliance wins the fouth KolkataMunicipal Corporation elections.
JUNE 28: Telecom workers and officials go on strike.
AUGUST 7: Foundation of West Bengal University of Technology.
OCTOBER 27: Jyoti Basu calls it a day as the Chief Minister of West Bengal. OCTOBER 31: For the last time, Jyoti Basu presides over the meeting of the state
NOVEMBER 3: Jyoti Basu spends his last day at the Writers' Buildings as Chief Minister of West Bengal.
NOVEMBER 6: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee takes oath of office as the Chief Minister of West Bengal.
DECEMBER 23: Formal approval of the name 'Kolkata' instead of 'Calcutta' by the Union Government.


JANUARY 1: Administrative order for change of name from 'Calcutta' to 'Kolkata' issued.
JANUARY 26: Devastating earthquake at Bhuj in Gujarat.
FEBRUARY 1: Foundation of the North Bengal University for Agriculture. Jyoti Basu speaks for the last time at the State Assembly.
MAY 11: Election for West Bengal State Assembly. Left Front wins 199 seats.
MAY 18: The sixth Left Front Government, headed by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, takes oath of office.
JULY 10: Left Front Chairman Sailen Dasgupta passes away.
JULY 13: Biman Bose takes over as the Chairman of the Left Front.
SEPTEMBER 11: Terrorist attack pulls down the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York.
DECEMBER 6: West Bengal Municipal (Ward Committee) Rules 2001 implemented. DECEMBER 13: Terrorists have a go at the Parliament House.


JANUARY 1 : Midnapore district bifurcated into two separate districts: Purba Medinipur and Paschim Medinipur.
JANUARY 22 : Terrorists attack in front of American Information Centre in Kolkata. JULY 18 : A PJ Abdul Kalam becomes the President of India.
AUGUST 20 : The State Government announces its new policy of IT-enabled services for West Bengal.


MARCH 1 : Left Front comes out victorious in the Tripura State Assembly elections. APRIL 28 : N D Ghan, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, visits Kolkata.
MAY 11 : The sixth three-tier panchayat election in the state. The Left Front wins.
JUNE 22 : Election for 13 municipalities of the state takes place.


JANUARY 16 - JANUARY 21 : World Social Forum session in Mumbai.
JANUARY 27 : Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattarcharjee inaugurates the Kolkata Urban Service for the Poor (KUSP) project.
MARCH 25 : The medallion of the Nobel Prize awarded to Rabindranath Tagore stolen from the museum of Visva-Bharati.
APRIL 20–MAY 10 : The fourteenth Parliament election held.
MAY 13 : Results of the Parliament election announced. The BJP-led NDA Government fails to retain power.
MAY 16 : All secular parties support the Indian National Congress.
MAY 17 : Leftists decide to support the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government from outside.
MAY 19 : Manmohan Singh sworn in as Prime Minister.
MAY 22 : Poll in 79 municipalities of 16 districts of the state.
MAY 27 : Manomohan Singh announces the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA.
JUNE 19 : Left Front wins the Kolkata Municipal Corporation election.
DECEMBER 14 : Gopalkrishna Gandhi takes charge as the Governor of West Bengal.


MARCH 5 : Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez felicitated in Kolkata.
JULY 30 : Inauguration of the Kolkata Leather Complex at Bantala.
DECEMBER 1 : Kolkata Municipal Corporation (Ward Committee) Rules 2005
DECEMBER 6 : An agreement is signed at a tri-partite meeting arranged jointly by the Union and the State Government with a view to forming a new autonomous board for hilly region of Darjeeling district under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.


JANUARY 16 : The State Government announces public-private joint venture policy for the health sector.
JANUARY 17 : Celebrations of 150 years of the University of Calcutta get started at the Science City auditorium.
FEBRUARY 17 : State Assembly accepts proposal opposing the attempt of the Union
Government to amend the Labour Act.
FEBRUARY 27 : Nava Diganta Industrial Township Authority Rules 2006 implemented.
MARCH 16 : The proposal for formation of the autonomous board under the Sixth
Schedule of the Constitution in Darjeeling hill area adopted. APRIL 17–MAY 8 : West Bengal State Assembly Election held in five phases.
MAY 11 : Results of the election declared. The Left Front wins 235 seats in the
294-member House.
MAY 18 : The seventh Left Front Government, headed by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee,
sworn in.
JUNE 28 : The Land & Land Reforms Department takes decision of distribution of 90,000 acres of khas land among 5,00,000 landless families.
JULY 6 : Indo-China border trade through Nathu La starts after 44 years.
JULY 12 : The Panchayat & Rural Development Department takes decision to introduce awards to the best panchayat of every block, the best Panchayat Samiti of each district and the best Zilla Parishad of the State.
SEPTEMBER 3 : The first bio-diesel bus hits the Kolkata roads.
SEPTEMBER 8 : National Education Commission awards West Bengal State Resource Centre for their contribution to literacy campaign.
OCTOBER 10 : To curb child labour, the Union Government imposes ban on hiring boys and girls below the age of 14.
DECEMBER 24 : Modernization of Burnpur IISCO gets under way.


FEBRUARY 10 : Foundation stone of a health township at Goda in Bardhaman laid. MARCH 6 : Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee inaugurates the new building of Paschimbanga Natya Academy.
APRIL 26 : Calcutta University confers honorary D. Litt. on former Chief Minister Jyoti Basu.
MAY 11 : Salanpur project agreement signed between the Bhusan Steel Ltd. and the State Government.
JUNE 5 : State imposes ban on manufacture and use of plastic bags with thickness below 40 micron.
JUNE 6 : State Government increases grant amount for SC students staying at hostels.

Agreement between Tata Motors Ltd., Government of West Bengal and WBIDC

1. Tata Motors Ltd. (TML) was intending to set up a manufacturing Plant for
Automobile Products including “Tata Small Car” to manufacture 250,000 cars
per annum on 2 shift basis which could be expanded to 350,000 on 3 shift basis.
In addition, it would have several Vendors and act as a mother plant for many
aggregates to tune of 500,000 cars. In this connection, TML was considering
locating the plant in the States of Uttarakhand/ Himachal Pradesh in view of the
fiscal incentive package for the rapid industrialization being made available by
the Govt. of India to new Industries in these States which has been attracting a
large number of industries to these States.

The incentive package in Uttarakhand/Himachal Pradesh consists of:-

(a) 100% exemption from Excise Duty for 10 years.
(b) 100% exemption from Corporate Income Tax for first 5 years and 30%
exemption from Corporate Income Tax for next 5 years.

2. The Government of West Bengal (GoWB) is keen to take appropriate steps
for rapid industrialization in West Bengal and in this connection wanted to
attract some major Automobile Projects to the State. The Government of
West Bengal approached TML to persuade them to locate an Automobile
Project including the project to manufacture “Tata Small Car” in West
Bengal. TML showed interest in locating the plant in West Bengal, provided
the State gave Fiscal incentive equivalent to the value of total incentives it
would have received by locating the plant in Uttarakhand / Himachal Pradesh.
GoWB offered to match the financial incentives in equivalent terms and
invited TML to set up the Small Car plant in West Bengal entailing
investment of over Rs. 1500 crores by TML. In addition, Vendors supporting
the project are likely to make further investment of over Rs. 500 crores.

3. Since then numerous discussions have been held and based on this
understanding, GoWB proceeded with identification of various lands for this
mega project. Land of approximately 1000 acres chosen in P. S. Singur of
District Hooghly was finalized with TML. West Bengal Industrial
Development Corporation Ltd. (WBIDC) commenced the process of
acquisition of this land. The process was completed with the Declaration of
Award under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act, and thereafter WBIDC
has obtained mutation of ownership in its name in the Record-of-Rights, and
conversion of usage of the land from agriculture to factory.

4. WBIDC is in possession of 997.11 acres of land, which has been acquired
under the Land Acquisition Act. Out of this, an area admeasuring 645.67
acres will be leased to TML for setting up the Automobile Project including
the small car plant, while an area admeasuring 290 acres will be leased to the
vendors to this Automobile Project approved by TML (ancillary and
component manufacturing units), 14.33 acres will be handed over by WBIDC
to WBSEB only for construction of 220/132/33 KV substation and the
balance admeasuring 47.11 acres will be used by WBIDC for rehabilitation
activities for the needy families amongst the Project affected persons.

5. The terms of lease to TML for the 645.67 acres of land for the mother plant
are described below. In addition, WBIDC will provide on lease 290 acres of
land to the Vendors selected and approved by TML on payment of Premium
equal to the actual cost of acquisition plus incidentals, to be calculated on the
basis of the total acquisition cost and other incidental expenses expended by
WBIDC or any of its subsidiaries (duly certified by its auditor) averaged over
the total land acquired. The lease rental payable per year per acre by the
vendors will be Rs. 8000/- per acre for the first 45 (forty five) years and
Rs. 16000/- per acre for the next 45 (forty five) years. The initial lease tenure
will be 90 years. On expiry of 90 years, the lease terms will be fixed on
mutually agreed terms at that point of time.

6. The parties also discussed mutually to finalise the package of incentives
required in order to enable GoWB to fulfill its commitment to match in
equivalent financial terms the fiscal incentive foregone by TML in
Uttarakhand. The Net Present Value (NPV) computation of benefits that the
project would have received in Uttarakhand is attached in Annexure I which
is agreed to by all the parties. Sample computation of benefits in West Bengal
with stated assumptions is given in Annexure II which is accepted by all
parties as agreed basis of computation. The NPV is calculated @ 11%.

7. Accordingly, it is finally agreed, in supersession of all previous decisions and
agreements in this regard, that for this mega project, the fiscal incentives
under Industrial Promotion Assistance in terms of the West Bengal Incentive
Scheme (WBIS 2004), assistance towards land cost and interest subsidy in the
form of a loan against a quantum of the term loan to be taken by TML for this
project will be offered by GoWB as follows:-

(a) WBIDC will provide Industrial Promotion Assistance in the form of a
Loan to TML at 0.1% interest per annum for amounts equal to gross VAT
and CST received by GoWB in each of the previous years ended 31st
March on sale of “Tata Small Car” from the date of commencement of
sales of the small car. This benefit will continue till the balance amount of
the Uttarakhand benefit (after deducting the amount as stated in para 7b
and 7c below) is reached on net present value basis, after which it shall be
discontinued. The loan with interest will be repayable in annual
installments starting from 31st year of commencement of sale from the
plant. The loan availed in the first year will be repaid in the 31st year and
the loan availed in the 2nd year will be repaid in the 32nd year and so on.
WBIDC will ensure that the loan under this head is paid within 60 days of
the close of the previous year (on 31st March) failing which WBIDC will
be liable to compensate TML for the financial inconvenience caused @
1.5 times the bank rate prevailing at the time on the amount due for the
period of such delay.

TML & GoWB will make best efforts to maximize sale of products from
the “Small Car Plant” in the State of West Bengal.

(b) WBIDC will provide 645.67 acres of Land to Tata Motors Ltd on a 90
year lease, on an annual lease rental of Rs. 1 crore per year for first 5
years with an increase @ 25% after every 5 years till 30 years. On expiry
of 30 years, the lease rental will be fixed at Rs. 5 crores per year, with an
increase @ 30% after every 10 years till the 60th year. On the expiry of 60
years, the lease rental will be fixed at Rs. 20 crores per year, which will
remain unchanged till the 90th year. On expiry of 90 years the lease terms
will be fixed on mutually agreed terms at that point of time. The benefit
on account of land would be calculated as the total land area leased out to
TML multiplied by the cost of acquisition calculated in the manner as
provided in para 5 less NPV of rent payable during 60 years.

(c) The West Bengal Govt. will provide to TML a loan of Rs. 200 crores
bearing @ 1% interest per year repayable in 5 equal annual installments
starting from the 21st year from the date of disbursement of loan. This
loan will be disbursed within 60 days of signing of this Agreement.

(d) The West Bengal Government will provide Electricity for the project at
Rs. 3/- per KWH. In case of more than Rs. 0.25 per KWH increase in
tariff in every block of five years, the Government will provide relief
through additional compensation to neutralize such additional increase.

8. It is also agreed that the computation of the comparison of benefits in
Annexure I and II will be changed if there are any changes in the rates
of excise duty and corporate income tax during the next 10 years.

Issues regarding Industrialisation in West Bengal Industrial land Use

The dismantling of the industrial licensing regime accompanied by various
other liberalization policies from the early 1990s has given the State an opportunity to
boost industrial growth, private investment and employment generation and at the
same time, has created an environment of competition among different States. This
has put a tremendous responsibility on the State Government to adopt appropriate
steps in order to bring about rapid industrialization in West Bengal. Aware of the
opportunities for industrial growth likely to be created in West Bengal, the
Government of West Bengal has been pursuing policies for overall economic
development of the State with a view to achieving growth with equity and social
justice. The State’s Industrial Policy was announced in 1994 with an aim to achieve a
faster industrial development. It encourages private sector investment and envisages
the role of Government as a facilitator of this process.

It should first be noted that the State Government’s policies for land reform
from the late 1970s have made a significant impact on the stagnant food production
scenario. The average annual growth of food output1 during 1980-95 was 5.03 %
compared to 1.22 % during 1970-80. However, the rate of growth of agricultural
output over time has been affected by increasingly dwindling size of per capita
holding of farm land which has come down from 1.20 hectares in 1970-71 to 0.82
hectares in 2000-012, and is thus proving to be economically unviable to sustain a
family. The average size of land holding appears to be one of the smallest amongst the
states and much below the national average of 1.41 hectares.

The recent growth path of the West Bengal economy depicts a picture of
falling share of agriculture in total SDP (State Domestic Product)3 from 27.48% in
1999-2000 to 21.82% in 2005-06 followed by a relatively steady growth of secondary
sector from 14.85% to 16.93%. The share of the tertiary sector has increased from
52.27% to 56.17% over the same period. At the same time, it is felt that the increase
in the services sector cannot be sustained over a long period without an increase in
manufacturing activity.

The last decade had witnessed a steady growth of SDP in the State with all the
key sectors including infrastructure having recorded a significant growth over the last
10 years. The SDP1 recorded a compound annual growth of 7.07 % during 1993-94 to
2003-04 as against the all India GDP growth of 6.23 %. However, in the last two
years, the rate of growth of the State has fallen slightly behind the all-India rate. The
rural economy has witnessed a phase of distinct shift in occupational pattern and life
style which is reflected in the pattern of per capita consumption of non-food items and
also an increasing aspiration towards school and higher education.

The 2001 census reveals that there has been a shift in the occupation pattern of
the main workers in relation to 1991 census data thereby reflecting diversification in
economic activities in the rural economy. The share of cultivators in total main
workers decreased from 30.2 % in 1991 to 20.85 % in 2001. While the share of
agricultural labourers has remained more or less static around 22.7 %, the same for
other workers has increased from 44.3 % to 52.7 % during the same period.

Growth of Industry in West Bengal, post 1991

From 1991 to 2006, 1,439 projects in the medium and large industry sector
involving an investment of Rs. 32,632 crores have been implemented in the State.
The number of industrial approvals granted by the Secretariat of Industrial Approvals,
Govt. of India, from January 2000 to December 2006 stood at 2858 with a proposed
investment of about Rs. 83,858 crores

It may be mentioned that for most of the industrial projects implemented in the
State, land for industries has been mostly purchased by the entrepreneurs directly
from the landowners. The State Government has in recent times also attempted to
carry out direct purchase of land for setting up industrial clusters. The process of
obtaining land through direct purchase has shown a mixed outcome.

The process of direct purchase adopted by the State Government was to set up
a consultative process involving local representatives and local district officials, to
identify land, and develop a consensus on the price of the land. The actual process of
purchase began after such a consensus was reached at. This process yielded the
desired results in the case of the Food and Poly Parks at Sankrail in Howrah district,
the Plasto-Steel Park at Barjora in the Bankura district and industries in Khargapur.

However, the same process ran into problems in the case of the Foundry Park and
Rubber Park in Howrah district due to resistance from various private interests which
had already purchased some of the identified lands across the project area and along
the roads. The inability to buy these plots through direct purchase meant that the road
frontage of the industrial park and contiguity of the plots were adversely affected.
Finally, in order to complete the process of arranging the land, the Government had to
take recourse to the LA Act, to acquire the intervening plots and plots abutting the

However, the State Government’s assistance in the form of acquisition is
required in the case of large projects, where the requirement of land is large.
Examples are the Tata small car project, and the various steel plant projects in the
pipeline. Similarly, in today’s competitive environment, the Small and Medium
Enterprises (SMEs) need to reduce their cost of operation, thereby helping them to
function in a competitive manner and at the same time comply with environmental
norms. Therefore, setting up of small industrial clusters for SMEs, with shared
common facilities, enhances their competitiveness. Government has to step in to
acquire the land and set up these clusters with the necessary common facilities and

At the same time, many of the existing SMEs may run into environmental
problems in their existing locations, which have become urbanized. Since these
industries would need to relocate to new, environment friendly industrial parks and
obtain environment clearance, it becomes necessary for the State Government to assist
them in the acquisition of land.

There has been a significant investment in the IT and ITeS sectors in West
Bengal. Major players such as Infosys, Wipro, ICICI Bank, ITC Infotech and foreign
companies have evinced interest in setting up IT and ITeS facilities, and most of them
wish to locate in the Greater Kolkata area. Since it is accepted that this sector is also
an engine of growth and employment, the State Government also has to arrange land
in the Greater Kolkata area for this sector.

The projects in pipeline involving large investments in manufacturing sector
for setting up modern and environment friendly production facilities will require large
tracts of land. Moreover, it is always not possible for every industry to locate in a
particular site. Decisions regarding location are based on a number of factors. In
addition to availability of land, quality infrastructure in terms of road and rail
connectivity (as well as proximity to a port for many industries), adequate supply of
water and power, as well as proximity to markets and urban centers are required for
successful implementation of projects within a definite time frame. In order to avoid
the complicated process of purchase of land from a large number of owners and
compliance with existing land laws of the State especially pertaining to land ceiling it
may be necessary for the State Government to acquire the land required to set up

In the last few years, the State Government has been assisting entrepreneurs to
obtain land through the process of acquisition as well as direct purchase. The State
Government acquired 2102.39 acres along with direct purchase of 1934 acres of land
for setting up industries in the last three years.

In West Bengal, the net sown area1 is 62 % of total reported land area while
another 13.48% in under forest, and 18.52 % is already under non-agricultural use.
The total land in the categories of barren and uncultivable land; permanent pasture
and other grazing land; land under trees and groves not covered in net sown area; and
culturable waste land together add up to 1.42%, (of which culturable waste alone is
0.40 %). For the country as a whole, the percentage of net sown area is 46.07%, while
the percentage of land under categories of barren and uncultivable land; permanent
pasture and other grazing land; land under trees and groves not covered in net sown
area; and culturable waste land together add up to 15.41% (of which culturable waste
is 4.46%).

To minimize usage of agricultural land for industrial use and to achieve a
balanced and sustainable industrial growth, the State Government is seeking to
implement a policy for location of industries in a manner so as to maximize use of
uncultivable land, locate industries in backward areas of the State, develop industrial
clusters thereby using common infrastructure and optimizing available resources. The
State Government is conducting a field survey on the vested land available as per
records and assessing its viability for industrial usage keeping in view its size,
location, contiguity and availability of infrastructure. The State Government is also
trying to use the land locked up in closed and sick industries keeping in view the legal
issues and other complications.

A Policy for Location of Industries:

In pre-independence times, the industrial development in West Bengal centered
around Howrah, Hooghly, Asansol and Barrackpore due to connectivity through rail,
road and river and availability of raw materials. In North Bengal, industrial
development has been mostly confined to tea industry and some food processing
activities in Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri. Thereafter, industrial growth has concentrated
first in Durgapur and then in Haldia. That Haldia would develop as one of West
Bengal’s largest industrial areas was clear once it was decided, in the late 1960s, to
set up the Haldia Dock Complex. Proximity to a port has always been a major factor
in deciding location of large industries.

In order to facilitate planned industrial development, some industrial parks
have in the meanwhile already been developed by the State Government such as
Kolkata Leather Complex; Shilpangan in Salt Lake for light engineering goods;
Paridhan - the Garment Park in Beliaghata, for apparel and garment manufacturing
units; Manikanchan SEZ in Salt Lake for gems and jewellery units; Food Park and
Poly Park in Sankrail in Howrah district; and the Plasto-Steel Park in Barjora in
Bankura district. It is estimated that more such planned industrial parks are required
to accommodate medium sized industries of the State. Growth Centres, i.e., large
industrial estates, have been set up at Kalyani, Kharagpur, Falta, Uluberia, Haldia,
Bishnupur, Raninagar, Dabgram, Malda, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri and Bolpur.
Similarly, the MSE&T Department has set up industrial estates in different parts of
the State for the small-scale industries. More such parks are planned by the C&I
Department and the MSE&T Department.

In order to create a balanced and sustainable industrial growth in the State and
maximize the use of uncultivable land in the State, it is felt that some parts of the
State can be identified as industrial growth poles, because of factors such as
availability of non-agricultural land, historical industrial presence, and availability of
good infrastructure. This will mean optimal use of the existing industrial
infrastructure, and upgradation of infrastructure where required, and facilitate/create
new industrial infrastructure for projects in backward areas.

It is proposed by the State Government that these focal areas of industry can
be: (i) Haldia; (ii) Asansol-Durgapur and contiguous areas of Bankura and Purulia
across the Damodar river; (iii) Howrah-Hooghly; (iv) Barrackpore; (v) Kharagpur-
Jhargram; (vi) Siliguri-Jalpaiguri; and (vii) Kalyani. At the same time, it is also
proposed to develop small industrial clusters in all districts of the State to meet the
requirements of the SME sector and to create employment opportunities in all

1 Estimates of Area & Production of Principal Crops in West Bengal, 2002-03
2 Agricultural Census Report, 2000-01
3 Annual Review of West Bengal Economy,2004-05,CMIE
4 Annual Review of West Bengal Economy:2003-04
5 Annual Report, Commerce & Industries Department, Govt. of West Bengal
6 Status on Land, published by the Land &Land Reforms Department, Govt. of West Bengal


Monday, September 1, 2008

Why This Agitation In Singur?

By Nirupam Sen
THE Trinamul Congress is at it again. It has re-embarked in its familiar role of creating chaos over the small car factory project of Tata Motors in Singur. A so-called movement to save land is crossing democratic boundaries and fomenting violence. A technician working on the project was roughed up with iron rods recently. He had to be hospitalised in a serious condition. A few days ago, another worker was attacked on his way home from the project site. The workers in the Nano factory, who live in rented accommodation in the area, are being subjected to threats to vacate their lodgings; even the owners who have rented out such accommodation are not being spared. On the way to the factory site or on their way back after work, workers are being intimidated, threatened and beaten up regularly. Public announcements are being made telling the workers to stay away from the project. The Trinamul Congress is now making the workers their soft target, with the aim of scuttling the project.

This small car project has drawn attention and created enthusiasm not only in the state of West Bengal, but also in India, and worldwide. The aim of the project to manufacture a low cost small car has generated amazement. Huge work is going on in Singur around this project. Thousands of workers, engineers, and technicians are involved in this project round the clock. It has had a major impact on the local economy. Shops, markets and banks have sprung up in the area. A few days ago, the car manufacturing giant MUL (Maruti Udyog Ltd) had organized a car fair in Singur. A report confirmed that they managed to sell as many as 20 vehicles in a single day. A few months ago, a newspaper reported a huge hike in motorcycle sale in that region. These examples clearly highlight the impact of the project on the lifestyles of the people in that area, even before the start of actual production. Numerous local workers are working at the site, along with workers from different parts of the state.


The state government, after discussion with Tata Motors, and the other ancillary industries involved in the project, has drawn up a vast plan to employ the youths of the families who lost their land for this project. Advertisements were put up for various job-oriented training programmes for younger family members of those whose land had been acquired. A large number of youths enrolled their names, and till date, 2793 young men and women are there on the roll. Moreover, 575 others, from landless families, are on the list. Steps are being taken to provide them with suitable training according to their qualifications, and to employ them on completion of training. Out of these, 855 are women. A significant section among these people is already employed in different sectors. More than 900 youths, both men and women, are already part of different rehabilitation projects. The programme to provide employment to the rest is also on. Women have formed self-help groups to run canteens. 40 local women are learning tailoring; preparations are on to provide them with sewing machines. Tata Motors has sent the majority of ITI trained persons in the area to their Tatanagar and Pune factories for advanced training. Preparations are on to provide training to those who are less educated, poor and land-less to enable them to work as car drivers and security and maintenance staff. Efforts are on to employ them not just in the main factory, but also in the ancillary units. There are also plans of assistance in place for those who want to pursue self-help. I do not know of such a wide range of effort even before the start of production in a factory in any other state of India.

Tata Motors recently announced that the construction is on schedule, and will be completed within one or two months. The preparations to create disruption around the project were timed just after this announcement. The aim is to tarnish West Bengal’s image in front of the country and the wider world since attention is focused on this project. The unfortunate truth is that, a section of the media in the state is party to this ill venture.


Are the demands raised by the Trinamul Congress or the so-called ‘Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee’ (Committee to Resist Land Acquisition) at all realistic? The demand is to restore the land that has been acquired to the so-called ‘unwilling’ farmers. It is a fact that quite a few landowners are yet to accept the sum offered as compensation. A total of 997.11 acres of land have been acquired. Eleven thousand owners of 690.79 acres of lands have accepted their payments. Owners of roughly 300 acres of lands are yet to accept the compensation. The number of these owners may be a little more than 1100. This data clarifies that the overwhelming majority of the landowners have accepted their payments. Out of those who have not accepted compensation, many could not do so due to legal complications around ownership issues. If we assume for the sake of argument that all those who did not accept the payments for their land are ‘unwilling’, is it possible to release their land after acquisition? The lands of those ‘unwilling’ landowners are not contiguous plots; rather these are small plots spread all around the project area. Even a child will understand that releasing those plots will mean dumping the whole project. It may be argued that equivalent amount of land from one side of the project site be released in lieu of the plots. This is not only illogical, but also unfair. This means A, who is ‘unwilling’ will have to be transferred the land of say B, who voluntarily sold the land. Why should B accept that? B could argue that if her/his land is not required for the purpose of industry, the land must be returned to her/him. This is impossible both legally and morally. There had been legal battles over these types of issues in the country’s highest courts. The Supreme Court had given a clear verdict in this regard, which says, a piece of land cannot be returned to its previous owner once it has been acquired. Even if the acquired land could not be used for the purpose it was intended to, it must be used for purposes related to public interest. Excess land, if any, may be auctioned by the government to the highest bidder. These directives are stated in the verdicts against civil appeals No. 6456 and 4113 of years 1999 and 2000 respectively. In a case between the state of Kerala versus N Bhaskar Pillai and others, the question emerged, “whether the government can assign the land to the erstwhile owner.” The Supreme Court in its verdict in 2004 said, “It is a settled law that if the land is acquired for a public purpose, after the public purpose was achieved, the rest of the land could be used for any other public purpose. In case there is not other public purpose for which the land is needed, then instead of disposal by way of sale to the erstwhile owners the land should be put to public auction, and the amount fetched through the public auction can be better utilised for the public purpose envisaged in the directive principles of the Constitution.” So, it is not a hard task to understand the motives of those who are raising demands for return of land that has been already acquired. They want to scuttle the project in its totality. The so-called ‘movement’ at present is being driven with this aim. There is no scope of doubt about this.


It is being said that the amount of land acquired is much more than the actual amount required for a motor-vehicle factory. It is a well-known fact that land was acquired not only for the main factory, but also for some 55 small to medium ancillary units. Those who are involved in contemporary motor-vehicle manufacture know the requirements of this composition of main and ancillary industries. The specialist organisation set up by the central government, NATRIP [National Automotive and Research and Development Infrastructure Project (] has framed some concrete proposals regarding the amount of land required for this kind of project. According to NATRIP, a main plant capable of producing one lakh (hundred thousand) cars per annum would need 450 acres of land. A 25 per cent increment of land has been proposed for each lakh units of production thereafter. This proposal excludes the amount of land required for the ancillary units which will manufacture the spare parts. Tata Motors has projected to produce 3.5 lakh cars per annum. So, they would have needed a lot more land for their main plant itself, according to the NATRIP proposal. In this case, around 645 acres of land has been allotted for the main plant. Around 250 acres of land has been allotted for the ancillaries. It should be noted that the Maruti factory at Gurgaon is on 650 acres of land, and their ancillaries are spread over another 600 acres of land, producing the same 3.5 lakh cars per annum. This is a total of 1250 acres in contrast with the 997.11 acres of land allotted for the Tata project in Singur. So, it is clear that the amount of acquired land is less than the actual requirement.


Despite all these facts and figures, the state government wants a steady and acceptable solution in this regard based on discussions with all concerned. If the opposition party’s main goal is to financially rehabilitate the poor and marginal farmers, solutions can be worked out through dialogue. The state government will definitely stand by those who are completely dependent on their land, and might lose all they have as a result of land acquisition. In this case, discussions can surely be pursued for their alternate economic rehabilitation. Issues concerning the overall development of the area also need to be considered. The goal is to accelerate and implement the possibilities of industrialisation in this state. Help from one and all is needed in this regard. A lot of effort and help from a great mass of people is needed to do anything constructive. But to destroy, a few people are enough. No political party of the state thinks that the state does not need to industrialise. Despite this, the behaviour of the chief opposition party and some of the other smaller political outfits is against any process of development and employment generation. They are eager to project a negative and destructive movement as a democratic one. All democratic people should vocalise their opposition to such negative directionless movements.