Sunday, July 31, 2011

Now, land acquisition trouble in Punjab

Now, land acquisition trouble in Punjab

Mansa, Punjab: The notice board has recently come up in the village Gobindpura of Mansa district in Punjab, the site of thermal power project being built over 860 acres of land. Already more than 700 acres of land has been acquired by the state government, but farmers owning the rest of the land are now resisting.

There are around 40 families not willing to accept government compensation of Rs. 23 lakh per acre.

With tears in his eyes, 75-year-old Amarnath says he will never give away his 4 acres of land; his two sons were arrested by police for protesting.

"Police picked up my sons as they were protesting; I can't give my land. They are just paying Rs. 23 lakh. What will I do with it, my land was very fertile," said Amarnath, farmer.

Those who have accepted the money say they had no option, as they never wanted to fight with the state government, but are complaining that the compensation is less than the market rate.

"I didn't give away my land happily; we were forced. The market rate is around Rs. 30 lakh and what we got was less. We were demanding around Rs. 50-60 lakh," said Bite Naib Singh, villager.

So far the Akali government in Punjab hasn't faced any major problem as far as land acquisition is concerned, but now it's beginning to feel the heat. State government says this thermal power project is very important for the development of the state, but some of the farmers here say the government can't forcibly take away their land. With elections round the corner, Congress party has also jumped in.

"The thing which is happening in UP is now happening in Punjab. All regional parties are taking farmers for a ride...they don't even allow MLAs to find out want happened to their people...this is too much," said Kewal Dhillion, senior Congress leader.

But Akali Dal president and Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, Sukhbir badal, says farmers got more than the market rate, and now Congress is trying to make it a political issue out of nowhere.

"Just two families out of 700-800 families have not taken the compensation; everyone else has taken the compensation and thanked the government. Check your facts; market rate was much less," said Mr Badal.

With assembly elections just few months away, political blame has already started and it seems land acquisition could become one of the major issues in Punjab.

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