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Left experts pick holes in Singur claims

NEW DELHI: A fact-finding team of intellectuals led by historian Sumit Sarkar, which visited Nandigram and Singur recently, said on Friday that people of both the places were not consulted on the land acquisition.

Maintaining that he and the entire team have been Leftists for as long as they remember and would remain so, Sarkar said: "The people there had not been consulted at any stage, nor had any elected body (panchayats or gram sansads) been called to discuss the issue.

Instead, protest is being met with violence." He said the Left is making a series of "terrible mistakes through West Bengal government which would cost it dear".Sarkar and the team met a cross-section of people in both places including politicians.

In Delhi, the team is trying to meet CPM general secretary Prakash Karat. Sarkar said what is happening is a united movement of villagers and is akin to the peasant movement.

"Most of the farmers are life-long supporters of Left, especially CPM, but do not want to part with their land," he said. The fact-finding team also studied the claims of the West Bengal government that the Tata project and Special Economic Zones (SEZ) would create job opportunities.

"People are totally sceptical about industries providing uneducated people like them with jobs. Moreover, several other such projects at Haldia and Jellingham have failed to do anything for displaced people," a member of the team, Tanika Sarkar said.

She said people in Singur have refused to accept the compensation given by the government for their land as they felt the amount was well below the actual land price.

Sumit Chakravarty, editor of Mainstream, and a member of the team said repeated queries to the state government about the number of jobs that would be created in Tata's new car plant yielded the reply, "We don't know."

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posted by Bimal 3.2.07,


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