Land acquisition a hurdle for railway project

Land acquisition a hurdle for railway project

Fragmented land holdings delay Blore-Mysore line doubling work

Farmers of Indavalu village in Mandya district, who have put up maximum resistance to parting with their land for the ongoing Bangalore-Mysore rail line doubling project, are in a quandary.

Indavalu, like the majority of rural India is gripped by the adverse implications of sub-division and fragmentation of its land holdings.

The 7 acres and 19 guntas of land identified by the South Western Railways (SWR) for laying the second rail line is owned by over 75 farmers. The fragmentation of the land holdings has been one of the major problems for both the railway officials and the farmers.

While the farmers, some of them possessing only one gunta or a little more, now face the threat of losing even that crumb of land and it has made acquisition of land for the project more difficult for the railway officials.

Though the prospect of a consent settlement with the government looks bright, majority of the farmers are not ready to part with their land, and if they are forced, they demand a hefty compensation.

The farmers who have stopped SWR from carrying out works in the village for the last two months, are demanding the district administration to pay them a compensation of nearly Rs one crore per acre.

Krishna C (42), who is spearheading the farmer’s movement against the project, said it is painful to let go the piece of wet land. Krishna and his brother were passed on 39 guntas of land by the family and the brothers had divided it into half.

Now, the authorities have identified 5.5 guntas in Krishna’s land and 4.5 guntas in his brother’s land for acquisition.

“None of us want to sell our land. But the authorities convinced us that the project is for the public good. If I lose 5.5 guntas, the yield in my land will come down. I may have to relocate if I lose the land,” he said.

The land was acquired by the revenue authorities and handed over to the Railways in December, 2011. The farmers and the district administration have failed to arrive at a consensus even now.

“We scaled down the amount to Rs 80 lakh per acre, which was further negotiated by the DC’s office. The officials said we will be paid Rs 60 lakh per acre, but we now learned that the then DC has written to the government asking for the compensation to be fixed at Rs 48 lakh,” said Krishna.

Indavalu is just 4 km away from Mandya city, and came under the purview of Mandya Urban Development Authority. The land is valuable and that the government was being unreasonable, he alleged. The farmers recently met the revenue secretary in Bangalore to seek higher compensation. 

Former Mandya DC P C Jaffer, who was recently transferred, concedes that the contentions of Indavalu farmers are valid. He was himself forced to take a lenient stand, he said.

“A majority of the farmers are really small land-holders and they are hesitant to part with their fertile land. Also, Indavalu is part of a very urbanised area.

Though the guidance value of the land is not more than Rs 20 lakh, after giving these factors considerations, my office had recommended to the government to fix the compensation at Rs 48 lakh. But the farmers have remained obstinate,” he added.

The Indavalu case is among the major hurdles the Railway department is facing in completion of the project, despite the government invoking the emergency clause under the Land Acquisition Act.

Besides Indavalu, Tipu armoury and Ranganatha Swamy temple and 16,425.42 sqft at Mandya railway station are the major hurdles. Now, the department has decided to extend the deadline to the end of 2014 from 2013.

The railway authorities are yet to acquire 49 acres of land – 29 acres in Mandya, 16 acres in Ramanagara and four acres in Mysore. As many as 22 villages have been identified for land acquisition in Mandya district, where the SWR has sought 57 acres and 38.04 guntas of land.

So far, the government has handed over 46 acres and 12 guntas to the SWR. Land in Guttal, Sathanur, Shamanahalli and Huluganahalli villages yet are to be acquired.

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