Thursday, August 28, 2008

Compensation package announced for Katwa, Burdwan

Consensus minus Trinamul

Aug. 27: The Bengal government’s compensation package for the people set to lose land for a power plant in Burdwan’s Katwa was today unanimously accepted by an all-party meeting not attended by the Trinamul Congress and the SUCI.

Representatives of the CPM, CPI, RSP, Forward Bloc, Congress and the BJP today decided to speak to over 4,600 villagers and convince them about the package.

“All political parties present at the meeting accepted the package and agreed to convince the farmers who don’t want to part with their land,” said Burdwan district magistrate Manish Jain, who presided over the meeting at the Katwa subdivisional office, 180km from Calcutta.

The package offers compensation ranging between Rs 11 lakh and Rs 5 lakh, depending on the plots’ proximity to the main road. Several other benefits were also announced (see box).

The 1,320MW thermal power plant requires 1,033 acres.

Local Congress MLA Ra- bindranath Chatterjee said: “We are happy with the package. Now our job will be to convince the farmers. We will do it because we all want the plant to be set up in Katwa.”

The Congress is the main Opposition party in Katwa.

However, the Krishi Jomi Krishak Khetmajur Raksha Committee, which is fighting the acquisition, said the land would not be handed over.

“We don’t care what the leaders said at the meeting. We are only concerned about our land. Is the leaders’ land being acquired? No. Then why should they decide our fate,” said Debaprasad Chatterjee of the committee.

Nearly 90 farmers in East Midnapore’s Geonkhali today refused to part with their land during the first hearing for land acquisition for a shipyard.

Around 500 acres on the banks of the Hooghly are required for this project.

Last month, over 300 villagers — out of the 600 whose land is to be acquired — had lodged their formal objections to the acquisition.

The farmers who refused to give up land today were from Babupur, one of the four mouzas identified for acquisition.

“We heard 89 unwilling farmers today. They have explained why they are not willing to give up their land,” said Srikumar Tarafdar, additional district magistrate of Haldia.