Protesters Back at Tata Plant

Sept. 16, 2008
35,000 protestors show up

Tens of thousands of demonstrators staged fresh protests on Sept. 16 outside the Indian factory slated to make the world's cheapest car after claims of broken promises. The protesters, who were demanding return of land acquired for the plant, returned to the site in Singur town in eastern West Bengal state more than a week after calling off a siege of the factory where the $2,260 Nano car is due to be built by vehicle giant Tata Motors.

Nearly 35,000 people turned up for the protests, police said. "We want 300 acres (120 hectares) of land from Nano plant," the protesters shouted at the site, near state capital Kolkata.

The state's opposition Trinamool Congress party, which is spearheading the protests, said earlier this month it had reached a deal with the state government that would see some of the land returned to displaced farmers. The agreement had put an end to the protests, with the state government saying it would give the 300 acres the demonstrators were demanding. But it has since said it will only give back 70 acres.

Work building the Nano factory has been suspended for weeks after protesters threatened violence against construction workers. The plant is 90% complete and Tata Motors -- India's largest vehicle maker -- had said it aimed to launch the Nano in October in time for the big-spending Hindu festival season.

Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata has warned he would move the plant out of West Bengal if the demonstrations continued, even though Tata Motors has poured $350 million into the project.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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