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Home News Power Sector News Allahabad - Farmers protest land acquisition for Jaypee Group 1320MW project

Allahabad - Farmers protest land acquisition for Jaypee Group 1320MW project

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Protest of farmersFarmers and land owners today went on a rampage damaging police vehicles to protest land acquisition at Karchhna near Allahabad where the Jaypee Group proposes to set up a 1320MW coal-fired thermal power plant. The agitators also alleged one farmer was killed in police firing, a charge denied by the Uttar Pradesh government. The deceased had been identified as Gulab Vishwakarma. Police said the death had nothing to do with the agitation.

The coal-fired plant proposes to have an installed capacity of 1,320 Mw.Some land owners were reportedly sitting on fast demanding better compensation for their agricultural land for past five days, while the agitation is said to be simmering for long over the issue. The farmers claimed the company had promised job to one person of every family, whose land was being acquired, but it had not been fulfilled.

According to reports, the condition of those sitting on fast deteriorated this morning triggering the violent protest, especially when police tried to remove them to hospital. Soon after the agitation broke out, senior district and police officials rushed to Karchhana, about 30 kilometres from Allahabad district headquarters. Police used force, including firing in air and lobbing tear gas shell, to disperse the agitators, who also allegedly attacked the personnel of the Jaypee Group.

About 20 people, including police officials and personnel, besides villagers were wounded in the ensuing clash. The violent mob disrupted the Allahabad-Mirzapur highway and railroads, disrupting movement of some trains. Additional Director General of Police (law and order) Brij Lal said in Lucknow adequate police force had been rushed to the spot and situation brought under control.

A total of 1,400 acres of land is to be acquired for the project, of which over 500 acres had already been acquired. The farmers' agitation in Karchana has put the UP government in a fix. The farmers are demanding over four-fold increase in compensation and the benefits of the new resettlement and rehabilitation policy the government had announced to pacify the agitating farmers of Tappal in Aligarh district.

Karchana farmers, whose land was acquired a few years ago for a 1,320MW thermal power plant being set up by Jaypee group, say they should also get the benefits that are given to Tappal farmers.

In Tappal, after an agitation by landowners, the government hiked their compensation substantially - from Rs 4.25 to Rs 5.70 per square metre. It also gave them the benefits of the R and R policy which included an annuity at the rate of Rs 20,000 per acre per annum for a period of 33 years, with an annual increment of Rs 600 per acre, allotment of land for housing, and option of buying shares in the company.

The problem for the government is that if it accepts the demand, similar demands will come up from other places, too. Just 30 km away from Karchana is Bara where land was acquired a few years ago for a 1,980MW power plant, which too be is being built by the Jaypee group. The farmers of Bara are keenly watching the goings-on in Karchana.

The land for Karchana project was acquired in 2007 and 2008, two years before the new R and R policy was announced in September 3, 2010. The farmers were then paid compensation at the rate of Rs 3 lakh per bigha.

Now they want this to be raised to Rs 13 lakh per bigha which, they say, is the same that was paid to the farmers of Tappal. Moreover, they also want the benefits of the R and R policy. In Tappal too, the land acquisition was done about one-and-a half years before the new R and R policy was announced, they say.

"Land was acquired for the project from about 1,000 families who own over 2,500 bigha of land in eight villages. Our land was acquired by the government at very low rates and then given to a private company. Like Tappal, here also the farmers here have lost their source of earning and no land is available in the neighbouring areas," said Raj Bahadur Patel, president of the Kisan Punarvas Sahayata Samiti, which is leading the protest.

In Bara, the land was acquired from the farmers in 2007. In the past, when the affected farmers of Bara held protests, the government had pacified them by assuring them that the JP group would build an ITI and a hospital. Now if the government bows to the farmers' demand in Karchana, it can certainly expect another agitation in Bara.

In the past, land acquisition issues had stalled/delayed progress of several mega projects in Uttar Pradesh, including the Yamuna Expressway, Lucknow Industrial Development Authority and the proposed international airport in Kushinagar.

Source- Business standard


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