IN a detailed review, housing minister of the Bengal Left Front government and senior CPI (M) leader, Gautam Deb, thoroughly stripped the lies away from the sets of allegations the Trinamuli chief and her lackeys in and outside of her outfit and the media, have indulged themselves in. The untruths the Trinamulis have hitherto been repeating ad nauseum have been concentrated on the massive Rajarhat housing project.
Gautam Deb took on each of the allegations and tore them apart. He started by directly challenging the Trinamuli chief’s declaration at a rally her outfit held in the township about the Left Front government ‘daring’ to return to the people who had donated land, 10 per cent of the contributions and in a developed form. Gautam Deb said that he would do that and with one per cent more added provided the Trinamuli chief agreed to let a motor car project go on in Singur if the state government chose to decide to return to the donators 10 per cent of the land taken over, and in a developed form.
Gautam Deb went on to challenge the premise that there was ever any mention of this ‘return of developed land’ demand in the concerned committee on land allotment of the state assembly, a committee chaired in succession by either Trinamuli and Congress MLAs.
It was alleged that the Trinamul chief came to know about the land takeover in Rajarhat in 2006. Facts prove that apart from the presence of the opposition worthies at the foundation ceremony of the project, and that was as far back in 1995, the issue has been up on the floor of the assembly several times, and yet the chief would not know about it at all! Also, it had been the Railways concern, IRCON, that had received an order from the concerned department of the state government for a land-fill job.
Second, she spoke about forced landfill on ponds. Gautam Deb’s short answer was that water bodies existed in her mind, and it had been the housing department and the corporation of the department that works at Rajarhat and elsewhere, HIDCO, that had dug up water bodies for the sake of environmental balance.
The CPI (M) leader blew away with facts the third allegation that no industries had been set up at the township project as planned. Gautam Deb gave a list of names of central government concerns that already have and/or were to set up industries in the township.
There was a short answer to the allegation that 25,000 acres of land have been taken over at Rajarhat. In all, 8773 acres of land would be the total need of which 6820 acres have been acquired and the process continues.
Another blatant lie was that land taken over at low prices was re-sold at lakhs of rupees, and she mentions an arbitrary amount of Rs 40 lakh out of nowhere, in profit. The land procurement committee which oversees that matter, the minister assures, has representatives of all political parties. Land in fact has been taken over with inflated rates paid to the land-losers.
The land was then redistributed at far less than the open market rate, in accordance with the claimed income group to which the allottee belonged. On the other hand, the Railways have been miserly in paying land prices for the losers, to the tune of a miniscule percentage of the rate paid by the state government in the township and elsewhere.
Another pointed answer concerned the chief’s new allegation that of the 50 lakh members of 10 lakh families affected have not been given a job in compensation. This was a grave statistical error as the entirety of the district of north 24 Parganas does not boast of a 50 lakh population.
It is also alleged that the Gram Panchayats (GP) were not allowed to function in the planning area. The CPI (M) leader pointed out that the GPs had no claim once the planning area was declared and in this declaration all political parties including her own outfit had readily acquiesced.
On the point that the direction of the Supreme Court in the matter of land acquisition has been transgressed, the minister said that this was not so and pointed out that in the committee-level decisions for land take-over, representatives of her outfit had always participated and had not protested in any way.
Finally, commenting on the threatening contention of the linguistic abuses that the Trinamul chief has been pouring out recently, the housing department not being an exception, Gautam Deb quietly pointed out that these threats could well turn self-deprecatory, sooner than later.