Page last updated at 08:45 GMT, Friday, 18 January 2008

Nano car factory cases dismissed

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Trinamul Congress protester
Protesters say that farmers have been forced to move

An Indian court has dismissed claims that land was acquired illegally for the manufacture of the world's cheapest car, the Nano.

Opponents of the plant accuse the government in West Bengal state of taking 997 acres of farmland at Singur by force.

The decision comes a week after industrialist Ratan Tata unveiled the Nano car, priced at $2,500.

The building of the Nano factory is well under way.

The Tata group are aiming to start selling the car in mid-2008.

West Bengal's Marxist government is trying to attract investment to rejuvenate the state's ailing economy.

'No violation'

A Calcutta High Court bench, comprising Chief Justice SS Nijjar and Justice PC Ghosh, said they had found "no violation of the Land Acquisition Act or any other regulation" by the West Bengal government in acquiring the land.

In February last year, one Joydeep Mukherjee had filed a petition challenging the acquisition of land at Singur in Hooghly district, about 40 kms from the state capital, Calcutta.

Mr Mukherjee, along with 10 other individuals and associations who joined the case as added petitioners later, claimed that the land had been acquired illegally.

Tata Nano
The launch of the Tata Nano has created a stir

They also alleged that agricultural land was acquired for building the factory which was illegal.

The court rejected all 11 petitions.

They followed months of fierce protests by a section of local peasants led by opposition parties like the Trinamul Congress. The West Bengal government, in its defence, told the court it had not violated any legal provisions while acquiring land for the Tata plant.

The world's cheapest car Nano, which has attracted tremendous media and public attention since its launch, is to be manufactured at the Singur factory.

State officials say scores of other automobile ancillary industries are lining up for space in Singur to set up their manufacturing units. Opposition leader Mamata Banerji of the Trinamul Congress party has not yet reacted to the judgement.

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