Come ride the growth’ read the huge colourful banners all over the city of Kolkata. The various festivals in Kolkata and around the city are apparent proves of the fact that ‘Bengal is smiling’, from the hills of North Bengal to the coastline of Digha, Bengal is smiling, laughing, guffawing. But, we think those making such claims are misinterpreting the grief-stricken shrieks of the wife who lost her husband or the father who lost his daughter as a collective hoot of laughter from the people of the state.
The term of the Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal has almost come to an end, only shy of a few months. In September, 2008 TATA head honcho, Ratan Tata announced that he was forced to abort the operations of the TATA Nano manufacturing unit that was to be set up in Singur, West Bengal and shifted this entire unit to Surat in Gujarat. This decision from Tata Motors came owing to wide-spread protest by the then opposition i.e. TMC, headed by their leader Ms. Mamata Banerjee. Banerjee had argued that the Left government had wrongfully acquired more land than was needed for the project and from farmers that were unwilling to give up their land. She demanded that the land that had been taken from those farmers who did not want to give their land originally must be returned and only the amount of land obtained by consent should be used. But, what she failed to realise was that, under the law once the land has been acquired, it could not be reverted back. As a result, neither was the project (that would’ve generated numerous job opportunities for those who had offered their lands and development of the region) realised nor did the unwilling farmers get back their lands. We would also like to remind you that, the TMC had promised to return the land of the unwilling farmers and also hinted at other projects that might come up in the remaining land that had been acquired. These two promises were a very important part of the TMC election campaign for the 2009 Lok Sabha and 2011 Vidhan Sabha elections. But as is evident, the region has seen no signs of development or job opportunities in the past 5 years.
As working factories all over the state are coming to a grinding halt and the workers are losing their jobs, bringing their family out onto the streets in many cases, Ms. Banerjee has personally made sure the festivities in the state and the foundation stone laying ceremonies in the state don’t come to a stop. All of us had had a good laugh when our Chief Minister in a public meeting had said that, the fried snacks stalls at every street corner were also actually an art form and that this was an untapped industry in our state. But, now as the death toll of the tea garden workers dying due to starvation and malnutrition is increasing day-by-day, it is time we need to stop making jokes and consciously decide to stand up and make our voices heard. A steel project that was being set up by Sajjan Jindal in Salboni, also had its operations suspended, citing technical reasons.
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