Supreme Court has scrapped the Singur land deal – a 1000 acres land allotted to Tata Motors in 2007 to set up Tata Nano car factory by the then Left-ruled state government in West Bengal. The land deal was one of the catalysts in the political history of the state, which saw the rise of Mamata Banerjee whose party galloped the three-decade old Left citadel.
The land deal soon enveloped in the deep controversy with farmers and locals holding massive protest, which on several occaisions resulted in clashes between the villagers and policemen. The deal was, though, upheld by the Calcutta High Court.
On Wednesday, the apex court set aside Calcutta HC order upholding the land acquisition for Tata’s Nano plant, finding fault with the land acquisition process.
Ordering the scrapping of 1000-acre land deal, the Supreme Court directed that the “acquired land be returned to the cultivators within 12 weeks from today”.
“Land acquisition collector has not properly conducted the inquiry into the complaints of cultivators with regard to acquisition of plots,” the top court bench said in its order.
Reasoning its order to cancel the land deal, the Supreme Court further held that the acquisition of land by the State for a company “does not fall under the purview of public purpose”.
The order is surely a big victory for the incumbent Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamamta Banerjee, who took up the issue from the streets of Singur to even New Delhi, taking her fight into the once impregnable Left-front fort in Bengal.
Hailing the verdict as “landmark victory”, the Chief Minister said “We waited for ten years for this judgement. It is victory of the farmers”
“We will hold strategy meeting tomorrow as to how to implement the SC verdict… Will work out a mechanism to return land to the farmers,” Mamamta Banerjee added in a presser addressed shortly after the verdict.
The court, however, ruled that the compensation to land owners/cultivators will not be returned to government as they did not use the land for 10 years.