Land for projects: Govt looks at ways to cut costs

Land for projects: Govt looks at ways to cut costs

Plagued by hurdles in the land acquisition process for major irrigation projects such as the Upper Krishna Project (UKP) and Yettinahole, the government is considering alternative models to cut costs and delays, Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar said on Monday. 

“We have discussed adopting the Pavagada model for major irrigation projects wherein farmers retain the right on the land,” Shivakumar told reporters. He was referring to the Pavagada Solar Park, which is housed on a 13,000-acre parcel leased out by 2,300 farmers who are paid Rs 21,000 per acre per annum with a 5% increase once in two years.

Pavagada model

The Pavagada model came up for discussion when Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy took up a review of the multi-crore Yettinahole project, which seeks to quench the thirst of Hassan, Tumakuru, Chikkaballapur, Kolar and Bengaluru Rural districts. 

Shivakumar admitted that the Yettinahole project had run into problems in the land acquisition process. He said, "Delay in land acquisition delays the entire project. We want to solve this problem as soon as possible." 

Under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, land owners should get up to four times the market value in rural areas and twice in urban areas, which results in project costs skyrocketing.

A total of 5,427 acres will get submerged due to the Yettinahole project in Bengaluru Rural and Tumakuru districts. “In some places, lands will be submerged only for three months in a year. Farmers have suggested allowing them to retain the remainder of the land so that they can use it. We want to throw this open for public discussion,” Shivakumar said.

Kumaraswamy has directed officials to expedite the desilting of 527 tanks in the five Yettinahole project districts to increase their storage capacity.

New law to curb water diversion

Shivakumar said his department was working with the Energy department to frame a law to curb unauthorised diversion of drinking water. “There’s already a law that bars use of pumpsets attached to canals to divert water for irrigation. The two departments will bring out a comprehensive law to prevent unauthorised pumpsets from diverting water,” he said.

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