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West Bengal puts on hold all SEZs

Kolkata, March 16
The West Bengal Government today said all special economic zones (SEZ) in the state had been put on hold until a "socially balanced" decision was taken in this regard at the national level.

Presenting the state budget for 2007-08 in the Assembly, finance minister Ashim Dasgupta said there was a necessity to take steps for setting up large industries in consultation with people with a necessary balance of agriculture and payment of compensation for land acquired for the projects.

With regard to SEZs, he said until a socially balanced decision was taken at the national level, the state government would not take any initiative in the matter.

The state government's move came only two days after a major flare-up of violence at Nandigram in East Midnapore district, where 14 persons died after the police opened fire on those opposed to the acquisition of their land for a proposed SEZ.

Meanwhile, a mob attacked the upcoming Tata Motors site at Singur in Hooghly district and reportedly set a watchtower on fire. The police has, however, denied any major incident.

Reports said a mob, under the banner of Krishjami Raksha Committee (committee to protect farmland), set on fire a watchtower in Singur, about 40 km from here, and damaged the fence by uprooting some poles.

But Hooghly additional superintendent of police Asit Pal told IANS: “It was nothing major. A procession was passing near the fence and they came too close to it and tried to damage it. There was tension but we quickly intervened and dispersed the crowd.” “No damage has been done to the Tata Motors area,” Pal said.

TV footage, however, showed smoke billowing out of the watchtower. The fence has been repeatedly damaged by the villagers in the past few months.

Singur has been chosen by Tata Motors for its small car project, triggering a violent face-off between the government and farmers. — IANS

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