Editor's Desk

The Singur judgment

The Supreme Court ruling terming the Singur land acquisition by the erstwhile Left Front government illegal and farce is a landmark judgment and a lesson for repressive political system that tends to be the friend of the exploitative industrial class. The way the Left Front government had tried to acquire 10,000 acres of fertile land in Nandigram for a SEZ for Salim group of Indonesia and almost 1000 acres of agricultural land in Singur for the nano car plant of Tatas had shamed the civilized world. In Nandigram, 14 people were killed and hundreds injured in the police operation. The two incidents of forcible land acquisition had ignited the common sentiments against the Left Front government that had claimed to be the saviours of the have nots (sarbohara) but in the end had turned to be the friends of the burgeoisie. True, industry cannot be set up in the sky and land is needed for it. But by depriving the poor farmers and landowners of their sole source of bread for benefitting industrialists does not find any justification. Actually, during the last years of the Left rule, the Left had deviated from its path and had increasingly become anti-people in every sphere of life. After Jyoti Basu left making space for Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, the Left Front was faced with many problems of its own making. Its anti-industry face had caused many factories in the state as trade unionism became all too pervasive. As trade unionism took its toll on the work culture in the state, no major investment came in the state causing rise of unemployment among the educated youth. In desperation, the Buddhadeb government was ready to go to any extent to invite investment and industry to the state. The industrialists gauged the helplessness and desperation of the government and put forward unpractical conditions for setting up industry in the state. The state government was ready to make many financial concessions to the industrialists that would cause huge financial loss to the state in the long run while benefitting only the industrialists.
The judgment is a blow not only to the Left Front government in the state but a lesson for all the states which were planning to capture large tracts of land in the name of SEZ or industry.
The policy of SEZ had become popular in India as a convenient tool in the hands of anti-people governments to usurp the land of poor and hapless farmers for personal benefits of the political class. This judgment will act as a deterrent to exploitative and repressive SEZ policy and to the political class who take masses and poor farmers for granted and think that they can usurp their land and get away with it. Nandigram and Singur struck the death knell for the Left Front's three decade old rule and in these assembly elections; they shrunk to almost half the strength. Such was the rage of the farmers and the common people against the repression of the government.
The Supreme Court judgment has provided Mamata Banjerjee with an opportunity to make Singur an ideal region with lots of opportunities and facilities to the farmers who lived without their land and now have to make the land ready for agriculture again. If the farmers are faced with bureaucratic bottlenecks and the youth of the area face unemployment, the opportunity will be lost.
Secondly, inviting industry to the state is good but running for investment from one country to another will send wrong signals to the industrialists or investors. They will think that the Bengal government will make huge concessions to them if they set up industry in the state as the previous government made in order to invite big industries to the state. Making concessions and out of the way facilities will not benefit the state economically in the long run. Therefore, a pragmatic approach in inviting industry would be wise and fruitful.