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India's Tata says state offers home for cheap car

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KOLKATA, India, Sept 18 (Reuters) - India's Tata Motors said on Thursday the southern state of Karnataka had offered land for a production plant for its cheap Nano car after the firm suspended work in West Bengal due to violent protests.

The company planned to roll out the 100,000-rupee ($2,380) Nano from communist-run West Bengal from October, but farmers angry over losing their land and supported by opposition politicians forced work to be halted.

"Karnataka has offered 1,000 acres (400 ha) of land and incentives for setting up the Nano plant in the state," a Tata Motors spokeswoman said after Ravi Kant, the firm's managing director, had met the state's chief minister.

Kant later told TV channels the company was considering its options on moving the plant out of Singur, an hour's drive from West Bengal capital Kolkata.

"In case we were thinking of relocating the plant from Singur he (chief minister) would give all necessary support and assistance and incentives to make it happen.

"We are watching the situation and actively looking at alternatives."

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa told reporters he was hopeful the Nano factory would be relocated to his state.

Tata Motors had said it would look for alternative locations for a plant for the Nano, dubbed the world's cheapest car, after calling a halt to work in West Bengal.

Farmers in Singur, where Tata Motors was building its factory, say they were forced off their land without adequate compensation.

Some said their consent was not sought and land was seized by authorities.

They want their land returned and have been backed by the local Trinamool Congress party, which has been spearheading the protests.

But Tata Motors and state government officials said land where the factory was being set up could not be handed back to the farmers, and instead offered to raise the compensation by 50 percent.

The Trinamool Congress rejected the offer, threatening more protests.

The dispute reflects a larger standoff 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. (Writing by Bappa Majumdar; Editing by Mark Williams and Sanjeev Miglani)

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