Posco ready to pay more: Govt

Posco ready to pay more: Govt

Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani said Korean industrial giant Posco has agreed to pay more for the 3,382 acres of land being acquired by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) at Halligudi in Gadag for its steelworks. Representatives of the company will soon hold negotiations with the agitating farmers for fixing the compensation amount.

The farmers’ agitation against the acquisiton of their fertile lands for the project has turned out to be a big headache to the ruling BJP government with the Opposition Congress and the JD(S) parties, and environmental activists espousing their cause.

Environmental activist Medha Patkar recently met the farmers, and AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who is presently waging a campaign against the Uttar Pradesh government for a similar cause, is likely to visit the aggrieved farmers in Gadag.

Nirani said nearly 70 per cent of about 536 families, whose lands are being acquired by the KIADB, are ready to part with their lands, but they want more compensation. "We have spoken to the company (Posco) and they have agreed to come for negotiations. The problem will be solved very soon," he stated.

The minister, however, did not divulge the quantum of enhancement in compensation that the government is planning to provide to the farmers. “It is left to the company to decide. If the company is ready to give as much as the farmers want, we have no objection,” he added.

As per the Land Acquisition Act, the KIADB fixes compensation based on the guidance value (also called government value) of land. There is a provision to enhance the compensation amount up to 25 per cent as the consent acquisition. 

The value of land for which the KIADB has issued preliminary notification in Halligudi village, is between Rs two-five lakh an acre. The farmers, who have even rejected the offer of the market value (25 per cent more) for the land, are demanding up to Rs 25 lakh an acre as compensation, sources said.

Asked whether his decision to denotify a portion of land acquired for the proposed Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals special economic zone will send a wrong message to both the farmers and the investors across the State, he said he will try to convince everybody, including religious leaders, to cooperate in setting up industries in the State.

He rubbished allegations that fertile lands are being acquired. “People in Gadag town are getting drinking water once in 15 days. This being the situation, how can there be any fertile land,” he asked.

He hit out at what he called double standards of the Congress on the issue of land acquisition. “Congress leader H K Patil, who is supporting the farmers’ protest in Gadag, has recently set up a wind mill project on 503 acres of fertile land in the district,” he said.

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