The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The hot debate on industrialization

It seems the hottest debate among educated masses of the city is land for the current industrialization drive of the state.

A fellow Orkutian (Member of, the most happening social networking website) has posted a topic in his new forum in the community Kolkata Freaks. Below is it.

Singur and Nandigram
Hey friends....I would like you all to post ur views on the recent incidents going on Singur and Nandigram.Its just u all need to post ur views and vote for this recent industrialization process accepted by our own CM. Are u for or against this industrialization.

All the reply messages in the next six days of posting the topic voted for industrialization. Now here is my view for the same.

Industrialization is the call of the hour
Everybody in Bengal agrees that we need industries. And for big industrial projects to come up, we need to offer big tracts of land. In an agricultural economy like Bengal it is natural that fallow land will not be adequate for big projects. After all we have over 62% of farmland, then considering residential land, industrial land etc there is little fallow land to offer. And most of them are in Purulia, Burdwan, Bankura and West Midnapore. Also other infrastructural factors like proximity to city, expressway, water etc must be considered for selection of location. Hence just because we have hundreds of acres of fallow land in Purulia, West Midnapore, Burdwan it is not feasible for all big industrial projects to locate there.

Hence we need to give away farmland for industry. That's reality and everyone needs to appreciate it. Every state like Bengal is doing it- Maharastra, Gujrat, AP, Haryana (The huge power project of Reliance is coming up on farmland). Now what should be done is- to avoid multi-crop land as far as possible and most importantly compensate and rehabilitate the landlosers and sharecroppers.

Many (Incl. some overenthusiastic political parties) are concerned about food security of the state. But as senior economist and ISI faculty Abhirup Sarkar has explained it recently in Anandabazar Patrika, even if we take 1,00,000 acres of land in the coming years for industry it will be 0.07% of our total agricultural land available now. So there shouldn't be any fuss and political parties better find some other important issue.

It was pointed out by some parties that huge watery land was available just opposite the Tata Motors site and that could've easily be offered to them. Do they want to mean the government was interested in inviting trouble by offering Tata Motors the current land which is mostly farmland? And didn't Tata, one of the oldest industrial houses and best known for its social responsibilities foresee the trouble for acquiring land from farmers? It seems quite clear that the current land acquired for the factory was exactly what was required. Can anybody tell if that alternative watery land is equal to or more than the close-to-1000 acres needed for the project? And mind it, quality of land is also a factor. Otherwise soil-testing wouldn't be required before construction of the Tata Motors plant in Singur. That watery land might not have been right for the plant.

Finally, the CM has given 4500 acres of fallow, government-owned land (Out of total requirement of 4800 acres), 4.5 times that of the Tata Motors land, to Jindals for construction of our largest ever industrial project- the steel plant with a captive power plant. Fallow land in Salanpur of Burdwan and in Purulia are going to Bhushan Steel and Balaji Steel who will construct two more steel plants. So we need to appreciate the fact that the CM has no such intention to eye only farmland to offer for industrialization.