India

Communists for Corporate Welfare

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In India, militant farmers protest eminent domain:

Work at the Indian factory where the Nano, billed as the world's cheapest car, is to be made has been suspended indefinitely amid local opposition.

Tata Motors has decided to look for alternative manufacturing sites after violent protests by farmers in West Bengal where the plant is located.

Farmers want the return of 400 acres of land and their protests have prevented any work at the plant since Friday.

While the masses engaged in direct action, the party that purports to speak for the masses despaired:

The Communist-led coalition in the state described Tata's decision as a "major loss" and described the current protests as "irresponsible".

Elsewhere in Reason: Shikha Dalmia discussed another Indian state's "rampant abuse of its eminent domain powers" in June 2006.

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  1. Poletown in India.

  2. What 400 acres?

    Who did it belong to?

    Were they paid for it? Was it seized, or just sold?

    IMWTK! No, I didn’t RTFA.

  3. I smell a rat.

    Isn’t more likely that the protesters are abusing their right to be upset and are bringing the production to a halt to strengthen their bargaining position?

    Mobs of humans have been trying to extract wealth by showing strength in numbers and treats since the stone age.

  4. Indian capitalists use the state’s power of eminent domain to seize farmland?

    Well, out SCOTUS sided 5-4 for the capitalists (Pfizer) with the “liberals” voting for the corporate/city mutual benefit against the farmer.

    India? I vote with the Hindus…

    But do they have a Takings Clause?

  5. So… they dont want Tata to leave, but they don’t want them to stay.

    Hmmm. If only I could think of a third solution.

  6. I know you will be shocked to learn that the Chinese gov’t seizes land from its citizens as well. CSM has a story about this on their site today.

    The drama here began last November, when Han Baocai, an 80-year-old farmer, filed a complaint with the Tianjin municipal government about the way in which the Huiguan village council had sold more than 50 acres of commonly held land to the higher-level township government of nearby Xiaozhan.

    Villagers claim now that Xiaozhan paid 10,000 RMB per mu ($8,500 per acre), and sold it to developers for 800,000 RMB per mu ($685,000 per acre), alleging that the Xiaozhan and Huiguan authorities shared the profits at the villagers’ expense.

    Xiaozhan deputy Communist party secretary Liang Hongbin insists that the township paid a fair market price for agricultural land and that villagers were compensated according to the law.

    Anyway, FYI.

  7. Hi,

    I am an Indian from Kolkata (near which these protests are taking place) so I might be able to answer some of those questions.

    The site of the Nano factory was is a 1000 acre area that belonged to many small farmers. After the Tatas approached the West Bengal government, the latter started the process of taking over this land from the farmers using eminent domain law. Basically, the farmers were offered substantial compensation, which most of them accepted. However, a small number (between 10 and 30 percent of the farmers, depending on whose version you listen to) did not agree to part with their land and refused the compensation.

    Things got interesting from there. The govt. took the land anyway, and work on the factory started. Meanwhile, the opposition parties, led by the fiery Mamata Banerjee started organizing these unwilling farmers and gave them vast outside support. The result has been a virtual siege of the area and the project now looks unlikely.

    Now, the factory would have been a boon to the state of WB, reinvigorating the economy and causing thousands of jobs, including to those who lost land. I have absolutely no doubt that if the Tatas directly negotiated with the farmers instead of going through the govt., they would have succeeded in buying all the land, paid the farmers more money than they received from the govt. and everyone would have been happy.

    So why are we in the current mess? Because by some absurd law , agricultural land cannot be sold for other purposes to private parties. In other words, it would have been illegal for the Tatas to negotiate with the farmers directly. So in a way, the current messed up situation was mandated by law. I have seen many examples of regulation screwing up things but this might be one of the most ridiculous.

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