Monday, 25 August 2008
Thousands protest land seizure for India's Nano car (IHT)
Thousands protest land seizure for India's Nano car
KOLKATA, India: Thousands of protesters surrounded a factory building what is billed as the world's cheapest car, the Nano, in the biggest demonstration yet against seizure of farmland for industry in eastern India on Sunday.
Enthusiasm for the Tata Motor's $2,380 snub-nosed "people's car" has been dampened by months of protests by farmers refusing to give their land for the project, now hobbled by cost overruns. The car's planned October launch is also threatened.
Waving flags and shouting slogans, thousands of villagers and activists gathered at the factory site in Singur, an hour's drive from Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.
Many protesters arrived in trucks and rickshaw taxis. Some sat in rows of makeshift stages built along an expressway leading to Singur, a verdant countryside of paddyfields and small houses.
"We have gathered today to get back our land. Money cannot compensate our loss," said Kajal Das, wife of a farmer who lost land to the project.
Thousands of armed policemen guarded the factory. Water canons were on standby.
The protests that the Nano factory faces reflect a larger stand-off between industry in India and farmers unwilling to part with land in a country where two-thirds of the billion-plus population depend on agriculture.
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