Documentary Photographer Gourab Guha is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From his project ‘Transformation from industry to agriculture. The remarkable story of Singur’. To see Gourab’s photographs click on any image.
Taking agricultural land for industrialization has been the dominant narrative of development in the 21st century, especially in the developing countries. In this context, the story of Singur in West Bengal’s Hooghly district stands as a striking example in reversing the trend.
"These massive disruptions forced the company to move out from Singur to set-up the unit in some other place."
It all started in 2007 when a leading Indian car manufacturer was allotted 997 acres of fertile land in Singur by the state government to develop a factory that would roll out cars worth $2500. This led to multiple protests, from the farmers, social activists and NGOs. Though government tried to facilitate the construction activities, but protests, hunger strikes etc. continued. These massive disruptions forced the company to move out from Singur to set-up the unit in some other place.
The abandoned factory evolved a big question gradually, what would be the future of the acquired land.
Because of this huge event a massive turmoil started in the political environment of Bengal and this event became one of the main causes of the end of the ruling government, who ruled the state for more than 30 years. The opposition party owned the state assembly election and new government took the first cabinet decision to return the land to the unwilling farmers.
In 2016 the Supreme Court asked the state government to return the land to the original owners within 12 weeks. A new chapter opened when government started dismantling the shades, pillars, walls, machineries, constructed roads everything to wipe out the conflicted project. The objective was to bring back the same agricultural land with all its productive capability, quite a challenging task indeed. Huge amount of money has been spent to execute this entire process. Government has done a mammoth job to identify the correct demarcation of lands for all the owner and distributing the same to them accordingly.
At present, agriculture has been started in some less impacted areas, while the process of “making the land cultivable” is still in progress in major impacted areas. Farmers are still hopping. Questions still remain. Is the land cultivable yet? What is the socio economic impact of this on the farmers?
By Gourab Guha