Since the dawn of industrialisation the trend has been for the city limits to expand almost relentlessly. Not only have new suburbs pushed outwards but also new industry, hungry for cheap land to house their factories.
Tata Motors are no different. Their latest plan is to produce the cheapest mass produced car for the Indian public. For some time now Tata have been negotiating with the West Bengal state government to build a sprawling factory complex on farmer’s land.
The trouble is the farmers aren’t interested, no matter how much money they’re offered. They instead value their fertile land and its ability to feed their families directly.
Three hundred acres have already been taken from the farmers and currently lie within the Tata Nano complex at Singur. The state government said it was willing to return about 70 acres of land within the Nano complex to the farmers but they are no happy with this.
Background to stand off
Tata Motors, which had unveiled the Nano, billed as the world’s cheapest car, in January this year, had zeroed in on Singur, a village near Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, to set up its first Nano project, which has been billed as key to make the state, ruled by a coalition of communist parties for more than three decades, more investor-friendly.
However, during the process of land acquisition, which the state government undertook on behalf of the company, many farmers complained that they were forced off their land and offered paltry compensation to make way for the Nano plant.
Since 2006, state opposition party, Trinamool Congress or TMC joined in the fray, alleging that the state government cheated poor farmers by buying their lands for Tata Motors plant at throwaway prices.
This standoff, economists claim, reflects the complexities India faces as it tries to haul 456 million of people out of absolute poverty through the promise of industrialization.
Meanwhile Tata is threatening to move on to another Indian state. More on this story here.