Kolkata, Oct 27 (IANS) Prominent social activist Medha Patkar Friday bolstered the morale of protesting farmers at Singur in West Bengal by holding a public hearing on their threatened eviction from fertile lands for a proposed Tata Motors project.
'Medha Patkar is holding a public hearing since morning,' Becharam Manna, leader of Singur Krishijami Bachao Committee (Save Singur Farmland Committee), told IANS.
Three ministers of the Left Front government - Nirupam Sen (commerce and industry), Rezzak Mollah (land and land reforms) and Naren De (agriculture) - were asked to appear at the hearing.
'This is the moment for farmers and labourers to debate the great development issue of agriculture vis-a-vis industry. The development paradigm is being discussed at the forum,' Patkar told reporters Friday.
She is to address a rally at the venue after the hearing on behalf of the farmers, who are facing an eviction threat on nearly 1,000 acres of farmland for the proposed small car project.
On Thursday, Patkar said the West Bengal government should not be secretive about land acquisition in Singur, located in Hooghly district, about 45 km from here. It should hold talks with the affected farmers instead.
Sanghati Udyog, a Kolkata-based NGO, roped in Patkar for the cause of the Singur farmers.
Earlier, international groups, including several scientists from different countries, petitioned online to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadbeb Bhattacharya and Tata Group head Ratan Tata to stop acquisition of fertile farmlands in Singur for the automobile project.
In online petitions by individuals, academics, universities, youths and funding institutions, the reformist chief minister and Tata Motors chairman Ravi Kant and Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata were urged to shift the project elsewhere.
The e-mail messages were also sent to Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.
While Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and her party led the political movement at Singur, the Congress too joined forces after Banerjee was heckled and Singur women baton charged by police on Sep 25 night.
Despite strong protests, the West Bengal government has vowed to hand over about 1,000 acres of land at Singur to Tata Motors.