With no fresh takers for the land abandoned by Tata Motors at Singur in West Bengal, railways minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday reiterated her offer to set up a rail coach factory there. But this time, she added that she was even willing to set up the project in partnership with the state government.
Just a day earlier, state-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd stopped playing footsie with the Communist Party (Marxist)-run Bengal, declining an invitation to set up a power plant on the land. It described the state government's proposal as "not feasible" and "not viable" on technical, commercial and environmental grounds.
The CPI(M) is at bitter odds with Banerjee's Trinamool Congress in the state. Having lost heavily in the general elections as well as in more recent local elections, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's government is widely seen as a lame duck resigned to losing power in the state.
Probably seeking to maximise political capital, Banerjee said, "We are ready to set up the coach factory on the land in Singur after leaving out 400 acres for farmers who did not willingly give up their land for the Tata Nano project." Banerjee had led the opposition against the Nano project.
"We are ready for a joint venture project with the state government. The state can give the land, we can set up the factory," Banerjee said at the function where she laid the foundation stone for a perishable cargo centre near Singur under the union government's Kisan Vision project.
Since Tata Motors abandoned it, the 997.11 acre site has become a bone of political contention, as political parties vie with each other to for bringing up an industrial venture on it.
Following a state government initiative, senior BHEL officials had recently inspected the land - still in the possession of the Tatas - to consider setting up a 1600 mw power generation plant. Only a day later, Banerjee went to the media proposing to set up the "world's biggest" rail coach factory on the plot, but after returning the 400 acres to "unwilling" farmers. (See: BHEL mulls power plant at Nano's Singur site)