SC declines to stay land acquisition for Tata Nano project

The Supreme Court has declined to stay a Calcutta high court judgment upholding the acquisition of land for Tata Motors' small car project 'Nano' in Singur, West Bengal.

The Supreme Court, however, issued notices to Tata Motors, the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and the state government asking them to explain the validity of the acquisition of land in Singur.

The notices were issued by a bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justices R V Raveendran and M K Sharma on petitions filed by some of farmers.

The petitioners claimed that their fertile land had been forcibly acquired by the government to set up the special economic zone (SEZ) by the Tatas on 1,000 acres of land.

The farmers had challenged the forcible acquisition of the land by the state government without the consent of the land owner.

The petitioners claim the SEZ could not be in public interest as it was purely a commercial venture and, according to them, the purchaser must negotiate with the owner directly. The land should also not be fertile and meant for cultivation.
The land is now in the possession of the company and is therefore not in public interest, but for the benefit of the company. Though the government claimed that the acquisition was for public interest under Chapter 2 of the Land Acquisition Act, it was for private purpose.

There were no talks with the farmers and the compensation was paid by the company and not the government, which makes the acquisition illegal and for private benefit, the petitioners claim.

The state government submitted before the court that the entire land has been taken over after paying compensation in 2005 and the financial closure is over.