Singur (WB): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday held an administrative meeting here amidst tight security to announce sops to farmers.
The meeting comes against the backdrop of revolt by minister and local MLA Rabindranath Bhattacherjee, who played an active role in the protest movement against the Tata Nano project, and alleged heckling of a junior minister.
Banerjee chose not to answer questions from the media on Bhattacherjee, who is unhappy since his Agriculture portfolio was replaced with that of Statistics and who stayed away from the meeting.
It was attended by another face in the Singur movement and Mamata loyalist and peasant leader, Becharam Manna, who was recently made the Minister of State for Agriculture.
When reporters sought her reaction on the rebel minister shouting "Didi, Rabindranth Bhattacherjee, Didi, Rabindranath Bhattacherjee," the Chief Minister left without making any comment.
In an apparent move to placate unwilling farmers who have not taken compensation cheques for acquisition of land for the now abandoned Tata Motor`s factory, Banerjee said the land would be returned to them after the disposal of the case now pending in court.
"On the first day of assuming power, we took the decision on (giving back to unwilling farmers) agricultural land at Singur. The land is now fully in the possession of the state government. A case is going on in court," Banerjee said.
"Immediately after the disposal of the case, we will give back land to unwilling farmers. Agricultural workers will get whatever is due to them," she said.
Announcing sops for Hooghly district including a college at Singur, roads, industries and eco-tourism projects, Banerjee said Rs 8,000 would be given to each of 31,000 farmers across the state due to rising cost in the use of diesel-operated pumps.
A film city would come up in Hooghly district, she said.
A new college would also be established on five acres at Singur, for which Rs ten crore would be spent, she said, adding that West Bengal now ranked second in terms of better implementation of MNREGA.
The chief minister said her government had arranged to pay Rs 2,000 and give 16 kgs of rice at Rs 2 per kg to those who have lost land and agricultural labourers.
She said there was delay in payment to 3,600 beneficiaries as the district magistrate was ill and a new DM had taken charge.
"Henceforth both payment of money and the rice would be done in time," she said.
Banerjee chose the Singur BDO office to show respect to farmers who had raised their voice against the forcible acquisition of land. It was from the office once that the police drove her out, she said.