Bengal hopes for amicable Singur settlement with new Tata head

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 28, 2012 19:21 hrs

Sankrail (West Bengal): With Cyrus Mistry slated to take up charge as the new Tata Group chairman Saturday, a West Bengal minister Friday hoped the change of guard would pave the way for an amicable solution to the Singur land row, which has entangled the automaker in a bitter legal battle with the state.

"I called him (Mistry) up today (Friday) and congratulated him for the new job. He too said that (West) Bengal was a good destination for investment," state Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee said.

"Management is always continuous but it is the head, the leader, who decides which way to go. I am hopeful," Chatterjee said to queries if the government was hopeful of an amicable out-of-court settlement with the change of guard.

Iconic corporate leader Ratan Tata Friday retired as the chairman of the Tata Group and Mistry would formally take over Saturday.

Though Chatterjee described the government's relations with the automaker as "not bad", he refused to give a categorical reply to a query as to whether Mistry would be invited in the state for a dialogue over the issue.

"The matter is sub judice and I am reluctant to make a comment," said Chatterjee, speaking to reporters in the Howrah district.

The automobile major had to shift its Nano small car plant to Sanand in Gujarat from Hooghly district's Singur in 2008 because of protests by farmers led by then opposition leader Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress.

Immediately after coming to power in the state last year, the Banerjee government passed a law cancelling the land lease given to Tata Motors and return 400 acres of it to the farmers from whom land had been taken against their will by the erstwhile Left Front government for the project.

The law was challenged by the company before the Calcutta High Court where a single judge bench held the law constitutional but on appeal, a division bench ruled it unconstitutional and void.

The matter is before the Supreme Court now.

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