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No forced land takeover for infrastructure, says Mamata

No forced land takeover for infrastructure, says MamataKolkata, March 15 : Asserting that her government would not acquire land forcibly for industries or roads or power plants, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday said consultations could be held with the people on taking land for infrastructure projects.

Replying to questions in the state assembly, the chief minister said her government would neither use "bulldozers" to remove people, nor resort to "firing" to implement projects.

Banerjee said the expansion of National Highway 34, which runs 443 km from Dum Dum close to the city up to Dalkhola in North Dinajpur, was facing issues related to land acquisition.

She said of the 2,380.36 acres of land required for widening the highway, only 465.46 acres have been acquired.

"I cannot use bulldozers to remove the people," Banerjee said.

She said her government rather preferred to hold consultations with landowners while implementing infrastructure schemes.

She repeated her party's stand that no land would be taken by force for setting up industries and the entrepreneurs would have to buy land directly from the people.

"We won't do anything against the interests of the people. We can't resort to firing upon people just to get something done," she said.

Banerjee said the alignment of proposed roads will be changed in areas where people were unwilling to give up their lands.

"Maybe, the cost will rise. So be it," she said.

Banerjee also categorically said even for power projects, her government would not take land against the landowners' will.

Expressing her opposition to the central government's Land Acquisition Act, the chief minister said any legislation on the issue should put emphasis on rehabilitation of land-losers.

Banerjee said around 500 acres have been acquired for the proposed power plant of the National Thermal Power Corporation at Katwa in Burdwan district and the company should negotiate directly with the people for extra land.

The project, envisaging setting up of two 800 MW super-critical thermal power units, has been stillborn with the company asking for 1,100 acres. (IANS)