land compensation, a bad joke

Vrinda Sharma

Members of the “pind bachao committee (save the villages) address the UT administration as a ‘ shrewd property dealer’ as it compensates landowners at Rs 7.50 lakh for an acre when the land in villages in Punjab is selling for over Rs 3 crore an acre, all under the pretext of developmental activities.

The land which is acquired, under the Land acquisition Act, is for expansion of Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park. After having acquired 400 acres initially, more than 70 per cent of which is used for non IT purposes, administration wants to acquire another 272 acres of land for RGCTP. Questioning the haste with which the administration was going ahead with the third phase of the IT Park, a landowner said that the land in Phases I and II is yet to be utilised yet, “Compensation of Rs 7.50 lakh per acre is 50 times less than the price at which the administration will sell this land,” he added.

“The Land Acquisition Act is an act, enacted for acquisition of land for the public purposes and for planned development and for creating infrastructures in public interest like in the field of education, housing, health, slum-clearance and other developmental activities. But the administration has started to use this as a tool to acquire land at cheap rates and then sell it to builders, thereby exploiting the land owners and adding money to its treasury,” said a landowner whose three acres in Krishangarh were acquired four years back.

“The IT Park which is being projected as a major development project is actually a commercial venture in which private builders are making huge monetary gains at the cost of landowners,” said a member of the Manimajra Farmers Welfare Society.

A member of the Environment Protection Society, Chandigarh said that, apart from the compensation issue, the RGCTP Phase III is ‘an ecological disaster waiting to happen’ as 50,000 trees will be cut down in the ecologically fragile area adjacent to Sukhna Lake.

The Pind Bachao Committee, comprising representatives from 22 villages that were uprooted to make way for the planned city of Chandigarh, has resorted to Gandhigiri, by sending bouquets to the administration, to protest against forcible acquisition of their land. President of the Pind Bachao committee, Angrez Singh Badheri said that, “We have held rallies and protest marches but this seems to be the best way to protest in this rigid democratic system. The administration is going ahead with the acquisition despite the announcement by the Centre that land would not be acquired forcibly from the farmers.”

“It is a pittance compared to the rate at which the land in and around the village is being sold and purchased, Now, landowners are being given only Rs 7.50 lakh for an acre when the land in villages in Punjab is selling for over Rs 3 crore an acre,” he added.

Villagers have acquired copies of land deals in nearby villages like Khuda Lahora, Sarangpur and Kaimbwala which show the cost per acre of land to be Rs 3 crore (2008), Rs 2.20 crore (2007), and Rs 2.20 crore (2008) respectively.

According to the Land Acquisition act, while acquiring the land, the land owners are not only paid the award calculated on the basis of Collector’s rate, but solatium @ 30 per cent on the value assessed on the basis of Collectors rate and additional market-value @ 12 per cent per annum is also paid through the award.

However, the award is further subject to enhancement as the land owner is at liberty to approach the High Court /Supreme Court, if he thinks that he has not been compensated suitably.
(eom)

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