Tata Motors Tries to Block Land Sale

The company opposes plans by the government of West Bengal to return the land to farmers in Singur, where a Tata factory was partially built and then abandoned in the face of protests.

Tata Motors on June 28 said it had filed a case in the Supreme Court to block plans to hand back land it acquired for its aborted low-cost Nano car factory in the east of the country.

The country's leading vehicle maker is opposing plans by the government of West Bengal to return the land to farmers in Singur, where a Tata factory was partially built and then abandoned in the face of protests.

The state legislature earlier this month brought in a new law to provide for the return of land to those who had not already accepted compensation.

"As per the country's legal procedures, we will agitate the matter before the Supreme Court," Tata Motors said.

No land should be restored to farmers until a decision is reached on a pending company petition in the Calcutta High Court against the new law, which it said had been passed with "undue haste."

Tata Motors pumped $350 million into the plant at Singur, near the state capital Kolkata, which was to have produced the world's cheapest car. But the firm pulled out in October 2008 -- even though the plant was 90% complete -- after violent protests by the state opposition party and farmers who claimed that their land had been stolen.

Tata Motors then built a new factory in western Gujarat state to construct the car, which was launched in 2009.

West Bengal is currently controlled by chief minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress party, which was at the forefront of the protests at the site.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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