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Published On: Wed, Jan 25th, 2017

Good investment promise, but rural Bengal not likely to part with lands

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Mamata-Amit-Firad-in-Bengal-Global-Business-Summit-at-Salt-lake-stadium-area-1KOLKATA : If  last week’s Third Bengal Global Business Summit was any indication, it gave hints for Mamata Banerjee that “there’s sound promise for big investment making inroads in investment-starved State.
But catch lies somewhere else: “promise is good, but how the state government would acquire land for new brand of investors who promised about Rs 2.35 lakh crore investment?’’

Significantly, major investment, in case they fructify, would concentrate on building and expansion of infrastructure, manufacturing and other important sectors, singled out as most important for setting the ball rolling for development.

In probability the State Government will have to look to rural and agricultural areas for land. And here the administration likely to meet  with protest and dissent.Take for example, what happened in Vangaur, a remote area in South 24 Paragana District,’’ pointed an economist.
In Vangaur farmers came out openly against the local ruling party leaders who recently campaigned for agricultural land from farmers for construction of power grid to take the electricity to an expansive mode.Vangaur was up in protest and violence broke out when the local ruling party leaders and farmers clashed, police called in and there were reports of death.

Interestingly, all farmers whose lands were marked for power grid expansion, were also promised a price for their lands. Yet they weren’t convinced!
And as there’s no confirmation if the State Government  has created a land bank to greet such proposal for their lands, it may seem impossible to accommodate them always.Firms from China to America and big Indian industrialists promised investment and if they come with money they would like to have the land.

Incidentally, lands from large number of now closed industries around Kolkata, especially on the bank of River Ganga in Howrah district could have been preserved for re-industrialisation, instead the CPI(M)-led Left Front regime got them distributed among real estate promoters and developers.
Thus these lands were not used to allow new industries to enter, and we find even TMC–led State Government didn’t any better plan for these lands which are still lying as it is with these left out closed industries,’’ pointed an economist, adding, “if State Government is overjoyed over the promise of investment, then Mamata Banerjee would rather have to be serious about lands.’’

Expanding in rural Bengal, especially in agricultural areas doesn’t point to a success story as Vangaur didn’t give a quiet signal and farmers aren’t convinced with new terminologies,’’ said a Left-leaning activist for farmers.

Like Bengal should know they aren’t China who do not care for people of their lands when policy comes to a rift with development, felt observers. For Delhi, both Nandigram fiasco for Left regime, now Vangaur it proves they need to package development plans keeping in mind farmers’ interests.

We need a great visionary who can integrate both rural and urban India into a package which wouldn’t create rift between development and agriculture,’’ felt an old Left intellectual, adding, “we failed in Nandigram so there was a mess.’’




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