At a time when Didi has declared war against industry on farmland notwithstanding the fact that every mode of civilized living has built upon where else but farmlands, the situation at Salboni in Paschim Medinipur is markedly different.
The steel empire owned by Sajjan Jindal proposes to build a mammoth steel plant there on a vast tract of land of which nearly 90% is already owned by the government.
The remaining 10% of land measuring about 450 acres is owned by farmers, who are eagerly waiting for the concerned authorities to turn up so that they can offer their land for the steel plant.
So, what the difference is between Salboni and say Singur or Nandigram? One of course is that the land at Salboni is not very fertile compared to Singur and Nandigram. Second is that most of the land is already available with the government, and therefore there is less reason for opposition parties to protest setting up of the steel plant there.
What however is most important is the generous compensation package announced by the Jindals. Apparently, the land losers will not only get cash and an insurance package for recurring income, they are also likely to get jobs at the plant and allotment of shares of the company.
Sajjan Jindal’s offer of compensation has already created a stir in the industry circles. Everybody agrees it’s a grand package, but the big companies are still not unanimous that such compensations are a necessity to alleviate sufferings of poor people, who loose land, which is often their only source of survival.
The willingness with which the farmers are ready to sell their land to the Jindals is a firm indication that given a good compensation, it’ll not be that difficult to build industries on farmlands even if opposition parties are hell-bent to create obstacles.
In a way therefore Jindal’s proposed Salboni steel plant will set a new standard in the way land losers are looked upon by the government and industrialists alike.