Mamata assures dole to Singur farmers

Singur, Nov 30 (IANS) To contain the rising resentment among Singur farmers, who had stood by her during the peasant movement against the Nano factory in 2007-2008, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday assured them of regular supply of rice and Rs.2,000 in cash.

In her first visit to this rural belt in Hooghly district after taking over as chief minister last year, Banerjee said: "We have not been able to return lands to the farmers because of the ongoing court case. Once the court case is solved, I am confident we will be in a position to return the lands."

A section of Singur land-owners, who were in the Banerjee-led movement against Tata Motors in 2007-08, demonstrated their resentment against the state government Wednesday by raising slogans against newly-appointed Minister of State for Agriculture Becharam Manna.

The farmers, who had not accepted cheques from the erstwhile Left Front government for the lands they had to give for the car project, were aggrieved over not receiving the dole of Rs.2,000 and rice at Rs.2 per kg announced by Banerjee earlier.

"There was some problem as the previous district magistrate had fallen ill. Now every month families of the 3,600 farmers who had not accepted the cheques for their lands will get Rs.2,000 and 16 kg of rice every month at Rs.2 per kg," she said after the meeting at the Singur Block Development Officer.

The farmers, who were promised by then opposition leader Banerjee that 400 acres of the acquired land would be returned to them if her Trinamool Congress came to power, had been the pillars of the volatile anti-land acquisition movement which ultimately forced the automobile major to shift the plant to Gujarat.

Eighteen months into Banerjee's rule, the farmers are yet to get back their lands due to a legal row between the Tatas and the state government.

Singur lawmaker and state minister Rabindranath Bhattacharya, disgruntled after being shunted out from the agriculture to the statistics and programme implementation department, has also refused to take up his new assignment.

The retired headmaster, who played a key role in the Singur movement, Bhattacharya alleged that a section of ruling Trinamool Congress cadres were engaged in extortion.

On Friday, he shot off a letter to Banerjee, expressing his desire to retire from politics.

Banerjee also laid the foundation stone for a college in Singur.

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