People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 10

March 09, 2008



Pattas Distributed To Nandigram's Rural Poor

B Prasant

WHEN Bengal forges ahead in terms of pro-people and pro-poor development, can Nandigram be left behind was the rhetorical question of Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Nandigram recently.  Buddhadeb was there distributing land-rights or pattas to landless peasants and the rural poor. A total of 1483 pattas were distributed amongst 2241 beneficiaries including joint-pattas.

Of the beneficiaries, there were 418 people belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, and 189 were Muslims.  Among those present on this occasion were Left Front  government minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah, and Midnapore east Zillah Parishad Sabhadhipati Niranjan Sihi. 

Buddhadeb in his speech said, iterating what he had declared back in February one year back at a mass rally that not an iota of land would be taken over by the state LF government at Nandigram, that peace and an ambience filled with amity, tranquillity, and harmony was an important pre-condition to every sort of developmental measures. 

Rebuffing in a gentle but firm manner the ugly slandering of the right-left combination at Nandigram (a combination that has chiefly boiled down to bare remnants of its principal componential parts of the Maoists and the Trinamul Congress), and declared that the LF government had no plans to go in for land acquisition here at Nandigram post-Panchayat polls.

Exhorting upon the rural folk to leave behind as a burdensome baggage what had happened for a full one year ? the depredations, the loot, the brigandage, the murders, the rapes, and the arson, the ejection from home-and-hearth ? and to look to the new sunrise at Nandigram, a sunrise that was filled with the brightening light of peace, cooperation and development.

In a slightly pensive mood, Buddhadeb, speaking in a voice that dipped down with visible grief, anguish, and regret, said that ?we had never wanted the people of Nandigram to shed tears of sorrow; what we had looked joyously to was the growth of another flourishing urban conurbation at Nandigram.  When the people of Nandigram ? even a part of the people of Nandigram ? said ?no, we do not want industrial growth, we had immediately bowed to their wishes, but not without a tinge of relenting sadness in our hearts. The lessons we have learned from Nandigram: we shall accordingly set out the path of development, a process that sweeps Bengal now, and Nandigram shall not remain in the stagnating backwater of underdevelopment.?


Setting out clearly and in a forthright manner the path of development for Nandigram, Buddhadeb said that rehabilitation and compensation came first.  Over the past year of dark terror-filled nights, when anarchy was let loose and disorder prevailed, a vast amount of harm has been done to Nandigram?s rural and semi-urban infrastructure.

?We would not note whose hutment or pucca house it had been that was put mercilessly to the torch, we shall not heed whose small tea shop it was that was looted and then smashed up, we will not look to the political loyalty of the man or woman whose only means of livelihood, small vegetable patches or a tiny piece of pukur or water body filled with fishes and fishlings that had been poisoned with pesticide, we shall not look beyond the person as an owner of a destroyed  paan baraj (betel leaf orchard) or burnt-to-cinder haystacks when we shall humbly dole out the packages of compensation and rehabilitation to one and all the Nandigramites who had suffered, and suffered grievously over a full one year.?

What are the developmental plans the Bengal government has for the growth of Nandigram?s economy? Roads will be repaired, and new roads built.  Bridges, culverts will be rebuilt, and fresh ones put in place as necessary.  Canals will be made serviceable again, and fresh canals dug with sluice gates to control the flow of the precious sweet water.  Irrigation facilities will be extended and upgraded to serve more and more areas under cultivation, converting more double crop land into multi-crop units of agricultural production. 

Agriculture will be diversified and made oriented towards the flourishing rural markets.  In view of market conditions, it was imperative to increase the income of the kisan and the agri-worker. A petro-chemical complex is on its way to raising a proud head just across the network of canals, at the mouth of the Hooghly, a few tantalising miles away from Nandigram, at Nayachar, producing at a mass rate rubber, textiles, polymer, and pharmaceuticals in separate sub-units.  Buddhadeb had no doubt that the ?people of Nandigram shall find work there once the project is completed.?


Despite the threats and physical attacks orchestrated by the right-left goons at Nandigram on the kisans, trying to prevent them from accepting pattas, the peasants came and simply brushed off the obstacles put on their path to rehabilitation. 

The smiles, hesitant at first, and then increasingly breaking into a happy beam, on the thin, underfed, but brightly lit faces of the kisans, men, women, and children, as the patta distribution was going on in a mood of festivity and the loud applause that followed the handing over of each patta deed, was certainly a sight worrisome enough to make the otherwise pleasant post-winter spring nights quite sleepless for the self-styled commanders of the Maoists and for the chieftains of didi.  Pestered by newspersons, on the success of the patta distribution ?festival,? a grim-faced didi would not break the deep gorge of onerous silence into which she had sunk lately, yet again.