Govt to go ahead with Posco plant in Gadag

Farmers agitation is politically motivated, says Nirani

Fertile agriculture land in Mundaragi will be acquired for the proposed Posco steel plant.  DH Photo

The minister said the farmers’ agitation against the proposed acquisition of land in Mundargi was politically motivated.

As much as 75 per cent of the land meant to be notified for the plant is dry and there is no irrigation facility, he insisted when this newspaper sought his reaction to the simmering discontent among farmers over the project.

Nirani said nearly 3,380 acres were required for the steel plant and the entire land proposed to be acquired, spread across three villages in the taluk, is in private hands, he clarified.

“It will take not less than six months to fix the price for the land. Farmers are not reluctant to part with their land, but they expect a good compensation from the government. The government guidelines say that the land price should be on a par with the market rates. Farmers will eventually get 25 per cent more than the market rate. In addition, suitable jobs will be provided for the family members of those who part with their land,” Nirani said.

Asked whether public hearings have been held before serving notices to farmers directing them to sell their land for the plant, the minister replied in the negative. He said officials of the State Pollution Control Board and the deputy commissioner will conduct hearings only after issuing preliminary notification on land acquisition. Farmers will not be compensated in terms of land but only through cash, he replied to a query.

“There are some complaints that ash generated from the steel plant may affect the medicinal herbs and organic farms coming up in Kappadagudda. There is no such threat because the steel plant will be located at least 25 km from the farmlands,” he said.

To another question, the minister said Posco had deposited Rs 120 crore with the government for land acquisition. The total expected investment by the company is Rs 30,000 crore, he said.

Sources said though the company required 3,300 acres of land, the government, through KIADB, was planning to acquire 5,630 acres of private land in the taluk. Each farmer has been served two notices indicating the government’s intention of purchasing their land for setting up the steel plant, they said.

While the farmers argue that they have been cultivating crops for eight to 10 months in a year, the government claims the land is infertile.

Farmers who have begun agitating are not organised at the moment, but a local JD(S) leader has now taken up their cause.

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