Bengal ends forced land acquisition, scraps road project

With its previous attempts to acquire agricultural land for industrial purposes having backfired, the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led West Bengal government yesterday announced that it would not go for forcible land acquisition any more.

Instead, the industries will have to acquire land on their own by dealing directly with the owners.

In the first cabinet meeting after the Lok Sabha polls, the government decided to shelve the acquisition of 120 acres of land for a city centre at Kharagpur. The announcement was made in the assembly by state finance minister Asim Dasgupta during his reply to the debate on West Bengal Appropriation Bill.

Dasgupta also said that the Barasat-Raichak expressway project of the Salim Group of Indonesia stood cancelled. ''We do not think it is required any longer,'' he said. The Salim group was to construct the 85-km-long expressway between Barasat in North 24 Parganas district and Raichak in South 24 Parganas district, which required 3,000 acres of land.

State industry minister Nirupam Sen had earlier told the house that industrialisation efforts were consistently halted by a handful of people opposed to the faster development of West Bengal.

He also said the government was currently working on an improved rehabilitation policy, and would place it before the House once it was ready. It has also taken two major initiatives - land mapping and setting up a land-bank.