Work at the Tata Motors factory in Singur finally came to a complete halt on Friday. All those inside were evacuated on Thursday night, and none of its 850 odd employees reported for duty in the morning.
"No decision has been taken on when work will be resumed," said a company official, insisting on anonymity. "Some of our employees were afraid. Our top priority is to ensure their safety."
Although the Mamata Bannerjee-led agitation outside the gates of the plant, demanding that 400 acres of the land acquired for the project be returned to farmers who had never wanted to sell, began last Sunday, the plant continued to function. Bannerjee had pledged that her struggle would remain 'a peaceful satyagraha'.
But from Thursday evening, some of the radical groups supporting Mamata began obstructing people from entering or leaving the plant, prompting the Tatas to take this decision.
Sapoorji-Pallonji, the firm entrusted with the civil construction of the plant, similarly decided that its 150 engineers deputed at Singur would stop work as well, leading to a complete shutdown.
Insiders revealed that the likelihood of Tata Motors pulling out of Singur altogether, as Ratan Tata had threatened at a press conference last week, was growing increasingly strong, and that an announcement is likely next week. Company officials have prepared estimates to show that though the company had so far invested around Rs 1500 crore in the Nano, the loss it would incur, in case it pulled out, would not be more than Rs 400 crore.
"We have received offers to set up the Nano plant not only from other Indian states, but also from foreign countries," a top official told HT over telephone from Mumbai. "We are considering them all."