Tribune News Service
Bathinda, April 26
Farmers from villages who are being forced to part with their land for broadening of the National Highway 15, today, threatened an indefinite agitation over lacking transparency in land acquisition on the 42 km tract on the Bathinda-Amritsar section. The Adarsh Nagar Sangarsh Committee and the Goniana Sanhgarsh Committee today gave a one-week notice failing which they “will come in the open” to challenge government move.
Addressing a press conference, Manish Pandhi, president of the Adarsh Nagar Sangarsh Committee, said “While preparing the property cheques, the government has gone by very old records. These had record entries under different names leading to incomplete compensation to a sizable number of farmers.” President of the Goniana Sangarsh Committee, Kuldeep Sran, said, “The government had created a major hurdle in dealing with the ‘saanja khata’ (property as common land) meaning giving compensation to all in whose name the common land was shown. In practice, the ‘kaabaz’ or the malki (owner in actual possession on ground) should be paid the compensation.
Both the presidents, speaking separately, announced that in case, their grievances were not sorted within the coming week, “We will be forced to hit the roads indefinitely against the lackadaisical acquisition process.”
Pandhi said: “The entire property along the NH-15 is commercial as was evident from the pricing of ground. The government was unnecessarily treating sizeable portion as rural and making a cruel joke on farmers. Sran said: “In Amargarh and Balahar villages, for example, a section of property which, at one point of time, was in the commercial belt while charging from farmers had now been put in the rural when farmers were the beneficiaries. Similar examples can be found at other places.”
Pandhi said, “Comparison can be made from the fact that land at one place was being acquired at only Rs 37 lakh per acre against more than Rs six crore per acre in Gill Patti. Land in residential area of Gill Patti will fetch Rs 8.64 crore per acre. Isn’t this unfair?”
Underlining intentions of the government in fair compensation to farmers, Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, Basant Garg, has already pointed out: “We have appointed SDM Damanjit Singh Mann as the nodal officer for the entire acquirement exercise. A special committee under the SDM has tehsildar, kanungo and a patwari to personally address each single compliant.” Dr Garg said, “Still in case, farmers were not satisfied an Arbitrator rank of the Commissioner will hear farmers individually before the entire process was completed.”
Pandhi said: “In another cruel joke, the government had nearly gone ahead the Tax Deduction at Source (TDS) being calculated on the whole amount. We had to show them the rulebooks and make them agree to the fact that TDS could be worked out only on interest amount that the property managed.”
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