What the debate on Singur hasn't touched

A remarkable fact about the recent debate about Singur is that it is so much about land, and so little about cars. Yet a thousand acres of land is really not very much, given that the state has over 1.3 crore acres of cultivated land, and even Mamata Banerjee cannot be entirely serious when she talks about the absolute sanctity of agricultural land. After all, if someone really believed that, then why stop at Singur? The New Town at Rajarhat, I am sure, could be double-cropped (and so, for that matter, could Chowringhee). Would she support a policy of no further urbanisation: Why not agitate to put policemen at Howrah station to turn back aspiring migrants, who are, after all, probably the most important reason why cities grow and agricultural land turns into housing estates.

A hundred thousand cars additionally a year, on the other hand, is serious business. After all, in 2005, the total number of cars sold was just over a million.And cars are what economists call a