The Tribune, Nov 8 2015, Mandi: Farmers affected by the four laning of the Nagchala to Manali stretch (National Highway-21) have decided to intensify their agitation against inadequate compensation and lack of transparency in the land acquisition process.
Four-lane Sangharsh Samiti president Brig Khushal Thakur (retd) said they held a meeting at Bhuntar yesterday and decided to hold a massive kisan rally in Kullu on November 23 against the violation of the new land acquisition law — The Right to Fair Compensation, Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 — by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
NHAI had issued a notification under Section 3 (D) of the National Highway Act, 1956, and vested the land from Hatt to Chhatenseri in Kullu district with the Central Government free from all encumbrances and the same could not be called to question in any court of law. Besides, tenders for the construction of the two-way lane from Kullu to Manali had been opened on November 4 and in other words, it meant that bulldozers of contractors would roll over soon, he said.
Khushal Thakur said as per the new Land Acquisition Act, 2013, the state government was to give two to four times of land compensation but by its notification dated April 1, 2015, it had decided to give only two times compensation.
He said the Central, the state and the land acquisition authorities did not comply with the mandatory provisions such as revision of the prevalent market value of the land, social impact assessment to identify people other than the land owners who would be adversely affected, including people belonging to the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and other vulnerable sections of society, rehabilitation and resettlement schemes for the affected people and transparency.
The new Land Acquisition Act, 2013, had been bypassed and violated by those responsible to implement it on ground, he alleged.
The people were left with no option but to intensify their agitation since they were repeatedly denied their constitutional and human rights. They have also decided to undertake awareness campaign for their rights from Nagchala to Manali on November 21 and 22, contacting affected farmers and people.
Khushal Thakur said a large number of farmers, agriculturists and shopkeepers would be displaced and uprooted due to the widening of the NH-21. The government and the land acquisition authorities have made no effort even to identify such affected people other than the land owners.
He said the people were not against land acquisition for the national highway due to its strategic, defence and development significance but were only asking for fair compensation and other benefits.
The farmers wanted to know the market value fixed for their land so that they could make alternate arrangements. He said the Chief Minister gave a patient hearing to the delegation during his visit to Kullu and assured the farmers that the issue would be looked into.