Prof. Amit Bhattacharyya on Lalgarh presents wrong facts – Sambit Saha

Writing to “SouthAsiaSpeaks“, a web reader, Sambit Saha has responded to the posting we carried here under the title “Singur to Lalgarh via Nandigram” saying Prof Amit Bhattacharyya ” has mixed facts with fiction” in his write up on “Singur to Lalgarh via Nandigram”.

Below, we carry the reader’s response in total as a new post instead of as comments under the main article as is often done, for easy surfing and except for one tiny editing, meant for journalistic decency.

-Editorial-

From Sambit Saha –

The writer (Bhattacharyya) has mixed facts with fiction and presented a story which is half truth. And we all know how half truths are more dangerous than lies.

Here are some examples:

1)      It is said in the article that ‘a large portion’ of the land was vested with the govt for distribution among tribal people. Author cited newspaper reports to base his claim. May I ask, how much of the 5,000 acre (this figure is also wrong. its around 4,700 acres) was earmarked for tribals? Before making the claim, did he search records that it was meant for tribals? And even if a tract was earmarked for tribals, can the land use plan not be altered? If land use plans are not allowed to change, wheel of civilisation will be stopped. Even the tribals also cut bushes for farming at times. Isnt that also change of land use? Do we haul them for that?

2)      Author mentioned that tribals were ‘brutally’ displaced. Please note it was a government land. State was the owner of the plot. None had any legal right over the land. While there was some  displacement (since Jindals also bought private land directly), it was far from brutal.

3)      Author said the land was given for ‘usual’ steel plant which was turned into SEZ. As a result, requirement of environment impact assessment was dispense with. Its not the case. The project has received EIA from union ministry of forest and environment. There were many public hearings as well.

4)      It is said that tribal and forest land can not be transferred, that its unlawful. If the land given for steel plant was ‘tribal’ & ‘forest’ land, why not even a public interest litigation was filed at court? Why none raised the issue? Had it landed up in court, governemnt could not transfer land. But none, be NGOs, or any social forum has gone to court.

5)      Author said turning the plant into a SEZ is a ‘terrible deception’. May I ask, how? Surely, he does not know anything about SEZ rules and regulations. As a result, he ascribed some of the qualities which are purely mental construct. Let me list them:

A)    plant will get water and electricity free

B) No civil or industrial law of India is applicable within SEZ.

C) no environmental law is applicable within SEZ

D) There is no right to movement/strike

6)      Based on such false assumptions, he made the point that the nearby Subarnarekha river, entire forest land, will be polluted.

7)      Author said half the money for compensation was paid in cash and rest in share for land which Jindals directly bought. Firstly, there were many non-tribals literate who gave land. Secondly, entire Rs 3 lakh was paid in cash. Jindals have promised to give company shares equal to the land value over and above cash compensation. Jindal also promised one job per family. So, there is no ‘fraudulence’ as author claimed. He also mentioned that if Jindal will set up the plant and hence give job. Can we expect not the economic downturn will go away sooner than later in India and plant to be a reality?

8)      Author said Maoist insurgents “the universal whipping boy” was blamed for landmine attack on Nov 2, 2008 on chief minister’s convoy. The insinuation is that it was not done by Maoist. But the latest live interview on TV by Maoist leader Bikash has put all speculation to rest. “Yes, we wanted to kill Buddhadeb but could not do, because of wild rats cut the wire’ Bikash proclaimed on live TV.

Well, I am tired to do any more fact finding. I hope points mentioned above would be enough to withdraw such ……(edited)…. write ups.

Thanks & regards

Sambit Saha

[Writer could be contacted – sambitsaha@yahoo.com]

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