The Tribune, Dec 2 2015, Mandi: Farmers affected by the four-laning of the Nagchala-Mandi stretch, National Highway-21, have decided to hold a demonstration at the Vidhan Sabha in Dharamsala tomorrow.
Upset over inadequate compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement benefits and lack of transparency in the land acquisition process, the farmers have decided to take up the matter at the state level.
Four-lane Sangharsh Samiti president Brigadier Khushal Thakur (retd) said they had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister at Kullu in October. “Despite assurance, nothing has been done on ground to resolve the problems of the farmers,” he said.
Thakur said there was blatant violation of the new land acquisition law — The Right to Fair Compensation, Transparency in the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 — by the state government and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
He said NHAI had issued a notification under Section 3(D) of the National Highway Act, 1956, covering the area from Haat to Chatanseri in Kullu district before implementing the mandatory provisions of the new land acquisition Act. “It implies that the land is now vested with the government free from all encumbrances and the same cannot be called to question in any court of law,” he said.
As per the new land acquisition Act, the state government was to give two to four times compensation of the land but by its notification dated April 1, 2015, the government arbitrarily decided to give only two times compensation, he added. It was not understood as to why the state government was denying four times compensation to its farmers, he said. The entire expenditure of the compensation would be borne by the Centre, he said, adding: “It seems that the government is adamant and pursuing anti-farmer and anti-poor policies.”
District collectors of Mandi and Kullu were required to revise and update the prevalent market value of the land before initiation of the land acquisition proceedings as laid down in Section 26 of the new law but the same had not been done despite repeated requests and they were treating circle rates as market rate which was in violation of the new land Act, he said.
“The circle rates as per notification dated January 13, 2012, of the state government are only applicable for calculating stamp duty and are not market rates for compulsory land acquisition,” he said. The district collectors were required to enhance the circle rates every year in March to be effective from April 1 for the entire year keeping into account actual transaction amount in previous year, inflation and special factors affecting the area as laid down in the state Revenue Department notification, he said. But no such exercise was undertaken by the district collectors, he said. The circle rates for Kullu district had not been revised for the past two years and circle rates for Mandi district were mechanically raised by 10 per cent every year, he said.
The determination of market value of land did not depend on the fancy, imagination and conjectures of a collector but on factors such as demand and supply, inflation, location, present productivity and future potential. The circle rates, however, could be one of the factors but certainly not the last word on market value, said Thakur.
The new land Act had miserably failed in its first practical test in the state, he said. “The state government has not even undertaken any exercise to identify persons who will be displaced or dislocated and will be entitled to benefits as per Schedule 2 and 3 of the new land Act,” he said. There were no rehabilitation and resettlement plans and schemes worked out so far which were to be notified along with preliminary notification issued by NHAI, he said.