If the Nandigram episode marks a blot on government’s somewhat peremptory perusal of land acquiring, the continuing unrest there firmly indicates that the opposition parties want to keep the ember glowing for as long as it suits them politically.
It is anybody’s guess what may ultimately transpire after the no-holds-barred trading of charges currently underway as to whether the state needs industrialization on farmlands gets over. If the consensus appears to point to oft-repeated belief that Bengal’s industrialization should be allowed to happen only on fallow lands and not on fertile farmlands, we may as well kiss goodbye to possibility of state’s economic revival any time soon.
This is simply because in Bengal, there is just no fallow land worth considering. So, if industry has to come up in the state, it will mostly be in fertile lands, unless of course you want to scare away potential investors by insisting that they set up their facilities only in torrid lands of Bankura and parts of West Medinipur.
In a state that always prides in its people’s sense of political acumen, it is no wonder that even development would also become a pawn in the hands of self-serving politicians. It is tragic, yet so horribly true.
Meanwhile, landowners who collectively are resisting any move for land acquisition even for such acute requirements like widening of NH-35 to Bongaon, are having less qualms to sell their holdings to land sharks as recent incidents around Rajarhat have shown.
The government has recently formed an entity going by the name, Bhangor Rajarhat Area Development Authority (BRADA), whose specific purpose is to formulate an exhaustive land usage plan in the periphery of Rajarhat and Bhangor. BRADA will not acquire land on its own, but would rather enforce a proper development plan for properties that are likely to come up there. [Ref: ET, Kolkata, Apr 4]
Many will opine the government may not interfere in the process where the landowners directly sell their property to the moneyed realtors and foreign firms. The downside in this argument is that seldom if ever does individual firms bother about overall land usage plan. This results in unplanned growth where there are pockets of development here and there with no sense of a seamless pattern.
I’m not an expert on these matters, but I feel it is principally government’s duty to decide how overall development of an area should take place. It cannot be a total laissez-faire, and should that happen, it won’t be long before we find ourselves enmeshed in urban conglomerates, attractive in patches, but devoid of proper planning.