Land acquisition: responsibilities of the government

INTRODUCTION TO THE COMPANY: Tata Motors Limited, formerly known as TELCO (TATAENGINEERING AND LOCOMOTIVE COMPANY), is a multinational corporation headquartered in Mumbai, India. It is India’s largest passenger automobile and corporation commercial vehicle manufacturing company. Part of the Tata Group, and one of the worlds largest manufacturers of commercial vehicles.

The OICA ranked it as the worlds 20th largest automaker, based on figures for 2006Tata Motors was established in 1945, when the company began manufacturing locomotives. The company manufactured its first commercial vehicle in 1954 in a collaboration with Daimler Benz AG, which ended in 1969 Tata Motors was listed on the NYSE in 2004, and in 2005 it was- ranked among the top 10 corporations in India with an annual revenue exceeding INR 320 billion. In 2004, it bought Daewoo’s truck manufacturing unit, now known as Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle, in South Korea.It also, acquired a 21% stake in Hispano Carrocera SA giving it controlling rights in the company.

Tata Motors launched the Tata Nano, noted for its Rs100,000 price-tag, inJanuary 2008.In March 2008, it finalized a deal with Ford Motor Company to acquire their British Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) business, which also includes the Rover, Daimler andLanchester brand names.

The purchase was completed on 2 June 2008 Tata Motors has its manufacturing base in Jamshedpur, Pantnagar, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Pune. Introduction to the Tata Nano : Nano is a proposed city car debuted by Indias Tata Motors at the 9thannual Auto Expo on January 10, 2008 at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, India.Called the people’s car in Tatas promotional material, it was projected to be the least expensive production car in the world.

The standard version of the Nano is projected to sell for Rs. 100,000 (approximately US $2500, GBP 1277, or € 1700) , not including fees or delivery. Newsweek identifies the Nano as a part of a “new breed of 21st-century cars” that embody “a contrarian philosophy of smaller, lighter,cheaper” and portend a new era in inexpensive personal transportation —and potentially, “global gridlock”. The Wall Street Journal confirms a global trend toward small cars, led by the Nano.The prefix “Nano” derives from the Greek root nanos, meaning dwarf — as with nanometer.

“Nano” also means “small” in Gujarati, the native language of the Tatafamily, founders of the Tata Group. History and conception: The project to create a 1 lakh (1 lakh = 100000 rupees) car began in 2003, under the Chairman of Tata Motors, Ratan Tata. The strategy behind the project was the awareness of the numberof Indian families who had two wheeled transport, but could not afford a four wheel car, andwas based on the companys success in producing the low cost 4 wheeled Ace truck in May2005.

The Nano was unveiled at the 2008 New Delhi Auto Expo.Industry convention was that a reliable car couldnt be made at such a low price, soinitial media speculation was that the car would be a simple four-wheeled auto rickshaw. However, The Times of India reported that the vehicle is “a properly designed and built car”. The Chairman is reported to have said, “It is not a car withplastic curtains or no roof — its a real car.”

This was a hard work of Mr. Ratan tata and dream of many middle class people who can afford 1 to 2 lac cost car which landed on the land of Singur in Hooghly district, West Bengal but faced a lot of problems due to land acquistion act 1894, due to which on 23 September 2008, Tatas decided to leave Singur in West Bengal, the decision is reported to have been made by the Tata management and the Bengal government had been informed. On 3 October it became official that TATA will leave Singur (WB) when Ratan Tata announced it in a press conference in Kolkata. While the ruling party has gone all outfor acquisition of 997 acres (4.035km2) of multi-crop land required for the car factory, questions have been raised about the party forcible acquisition which was made under the colonial Land Acquisition Act of 1894.Others say the provisions of this act were allegedly not been met. The law has provisions for state taking over privately heldland for public purposes but not for developing private businesses. The illegality of the acquisition has been substantially conceded by the Kolkata High Court. The Tata Motors site is the most fertile one in the whole of the Singur, and the Singur block, in turn, is among the most highly fertile in West Bengal.

Consequently, almost the entire local population depends on agriculture with approximately 15000 making their livelihood directly from it. With the number of direct jobs to be created no more than about 1,000, many of which are expected to go to outsiders, the local populace felt threatened for their livelihood. Environmental degradation is also feared.

Chief protesters include the opposition parties spearheaded by the Trinamool Congress under miss Mamta Banerjee and Socialist Unity Centre of India. The movement has received widespread support from civil rights and human rights groups, legal bodies, social activists like Medha Patkar and Anuradha Talwar Booker prize-winning author Arundhati Roy and Magsaysay and Jnanpith Award – winning author Mahasweta Devi. Other intellectuals, writers like the poet Ruchit Shah, artists like Suvaprasanna, theatre and film personalities like Saonli Mitra.

The state police force has been used to restrict their access to the area.The Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen supported the idea of factory but he however opposed forcible acquisition of land. The protesters have been attacked, verbally by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders and physically by the party’s supporters. Benoy Konar, member of the party’s state committee, famously declared that protesting intellectuals would be greeted by women supporters of the party by showing their behinds.

Preliminary surveys by officials of the state and Tata Motors faced protests, and manhandling on one occasion, from the villagers organized under the Save Singur Farmland Committee with Trinamool Congress forming its chief component.It is reported that Naxalite elements holds way over the direction the agitation takes and the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee takes no decisions without consulting them. The state government imposed the prohibitory section 144 of the Indian Penal Code for initially a month and then extended it indefinitely.

The imposition has been declared illegal by the Kolkata High Court. While landless peasants and share-croppers fear losing out entirely, sections of the locals, particularly those owing allegiance to the CPI(M) have welcomed the factory. These count chiefly among the owners of bigger portions of the land even as discrimination in the compensation has been alleged. A section of those promised jobs at the factory have boycotted classes while training in protest against the alleged going back on the promise. Root cause which led to controversy

So one thing that’s pretty clear from this timeline is that the government, to tackle the slow economy looks to the corporate world which puts forward lucrative offers that they accept, without takin“““`g the whole picture into account. Just take the recent depreciation of rupee for example.

To tackle the decreasing value of a rupee, government has increased the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap on proposed services like telecom, insurance etc. Isn’t the government supposed to look at the pros and cons of an idea or a policy before making a decision? But, as usual, the government did not bother considering the problems that the public will face. Coming back to Tata Motors; you will be surprised to know that the land allotted to the company was a fertile, multi crop land. And the people staying on the proposed land were forced to evacuate by the government.

The compensation given was considered inadequate and the new housing facilities offered were delayed. This led to the protest of the peasants which was backed by the opposition political parties. All the promises that the company made were just words that never saw the daylight. According to their claims, Singur would have been a mini-auto city and approximately 70 vendors would set up shop along with the factory. However, the project had generated controversy right from the start, particularly on the question of state acquisition of fertile agricultural land for private enterprise.