Saturday, August 30, 2008

A cottah for every bigha (20 cottahs)

Enter, land-for-land scheme

Calcutta, Aug. 28: Landlosers will be compensated with land for the first time in Bengal.

The offer will be part of a package for building an airport in Andal, Burdwan — the proposal for which was approved by the state cabinet today. The land compensation will be offered by a joint venture, not directly by the government.

Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Ltd (BAPL), which proposes to develop the private airport and a satellite industrial township, plans to offer a cottah for every bigha — 20 cottahs make a bigha — over and above the compensation in cash.

The land offered will be in areas adjoining the proposed project zone, which officials said lay 2km from collieries and was not fertile.

A source close to the company said the scheme had been designed in such a way that those who give up plots don’t feel cheated if, and when, land prices rise once the project gets under way. In Singur, for instance, land prices have shot up four times since the Tata Motors project was announced.

The Telegraph had reported that the state government was considering land for land as a possible rehabilitation and resettlement package to capture the future value of land, as suggested by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen in an interview to this paper.

Chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb announced the government’s nod for the Rs 10,000-crore project after a cabinet meeting at Writers’ Buildings.

Deb said a township surrounding the airport, complete with malls, an IT park, multiplexes, hospitals and educational institutions, would come up in the Burdwan block, about 220km from Calcutta.

For the airport project, BAPL — a joint venture that includes Pragati Social Infrastructure Company, the Asansol-Durgapur Development Authority, the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and Hudco — plans to acquire 2,300 acres for the first phase and another 1,200 acres later.

The state industrial development corporation will buy most of the land and lease it to BAPL. Sources said the land cost could be anywhere between Rs 7.5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh an acre.

For the second phase, some homestead land will be acquired, but BAPL plans to build houses for each of the around 250 families who will lose homes.

For those with less than a bigha, an annuity scheme, to run over five years, is being worked out. The company will also give vocational training to one member of each landlosing family. BAPL expects the rehab package to cost around Rs 75-100 crore.

Sources said the airport would be ready by the middle of 2011, and would be provided operational knowhow by Singapore’s Changi airport.