The Supreme Court today set aside the land acquisition by West Bengal government in 2006 to facilitate the setting up of Tata Motors’ Nano plant. The announcement comes as a big setback for the Tata's and also drew some severe reprimand for the then government from the apex court.
The SC today directed the West Bengal government to take possession of the land and distribute it to the land owners within 12 weeks.
The top court’s ruling came while hearing a batch of petitions that had challenged the acquisition of land in West Bengal's Singur for Tata Motors' ambitious Nano small car project.
Here are 10 developments surrounding the Singur controversy:
1. The Supreme Court in its order said that Tata had bypassed the rules while acquiring the land. “Land can't be acquired at the instance of a private company,” the court said while making it clear that the ‘deal represented an exercise of power at the instance of a private company’ and hence did not qualify as public purpose.
2. The SC also announced that the farmer's who got compensation from the government will not return it because they were deprived of their livelihood for the last ten years.
3. Reacting to the SC’s decision, Mamata Banerjee, who had protested against the ‘forcible’ land acquisition by the erstwhile Left government, said: "This is a landmark victory. This is a victory of the people, victory of Ma, Mati Manush (Mother, land and people -- Banerjee's pet slogan).”
4. In May 2006, the then Left government led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya had announced that Tata would locate their Nano project in Singur for which some 997 acres of land would be allocated. The choice of Singur was made by the company among six sites offered by the state government.
5. Mamata Banerjee then had kicked up a storm and protested against the acquisition of the land by Tata. Tata, however, completed the construction of the plant and amid the agitation released their model Nano car. The car was unveiled in 2008 at the Delhi auto show.
6. Mamata, however, relentlessly protested against the acquisition and demanded that land belonging to the 'unwilling farmers' should be returned to them. She had also gone on a 26-day long hunger strike. She had alleged that the compensation offered to the farmers were inadequate considering the big promises they made.
7. The Tatas finally decided to move out of Singur in October 2008 and announced to set up the Tata Nano plant in Sanand, Gujarat.
8. Even after exiting the land, Tata maintained that it will not give it up and will use it for other purposes. The company blamed agitation by Mamata for the pullout decision.
9. When Mamata became the CM of West Bengal in 2011, she announced her intent to return the Singur land to the ‘unwilling farmers’. The Bengal Assembly passed Singur Land and Rehabilitation Bill, 2011.
10. Tata moved the Calcutta High Court challenging the law. The court approved the acquisition. But Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (a rights organization) moved the Supreme Court against it.