Defiant Mamata minister promises new law if WB govt loses Singur case in SC

The Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government would bring in a new legislation to return land to unwilling farmers in Singur, if the Supreme Court verdict on Singur Land Act went against it, Labour Minister Purnendu Basu said here today.

The Singur Land Act allows the West Bengal government to reclaim 400 acre earlier given to Tata Motors.

"If we lose in the Supreme Court, the state government will bring a new law, and after getting the President's assent, we will return the land to unwilling farmers," Basu told a meeting of the Krishi Jami Rakshya committee, which took part in the Singur movement.

The Supreme Court has stayed a Calcutta High Court judgement that struck down the Singur Land Act on an appeal by Tata Motors.

Senior leader and minister Subrata Mukherjee, however, said, "Let the Tatas withdraw their case and sit with the government for discussion."

Later, to a question on how much land the government would return to unwilling farmers, Mukherjee said it could be "50 acre or 75 acre. It is not in my pocket."

The Trinamool Congress had demanded return of 400 acres of the acquired land for the Tata Motors factory to the farmers who unwillingly parted with their land.

Others who spoke were Trinamool Congress General Secretary Mukul Roy, Urban Development minister Firhad Hakim and local leader and Minister of state for Agriculture Becharam Manna.

The leaders were speaking at Martyr's Day in remembrance of Tapasi Malik, a teenager who actively took part in the Singur movement and whose burnt body was found here on December 18, 2006.

Rebel Trinamool minister Rabindranath Bhattacharjee, who did not attend the meeting, said, "None should hold on to their ego. I am still in favour of an out of court settlement ratified by the court."

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