Farmers step up land demand
Durgapur, Jan. 6: Villagers set to lose land for the Andal aerotropolis project today formed a farmers’ committee that demanded developed plots in the project site measuring half the area of the land given up by each holder.
That would mean a farmer giving up two cottahs would have to be given one cottah in the airport city area with all facilities like roads, electricity and water supply.
Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited, which is handling the project, had offered the farmers between Rs 7.5 lakh and Rs 11.24 lakh an acre depending on the fertility and location of the plot. The farmers were also to get a cottah inside the project area for every bigha acquired (20 cottahs make a bigha). But there was a ceiling on the land-for-land offer: no farmer would get more than six cottahs.
The new demand — of more land in the project area — came after the farmers from 12 mouzas formed the Krishi Jomi Jiban Jibika Raksha Committee, at the helm of which is the Trinamul Congress. The SUCI and Naxalite outfits are believed to be involved as well.
“We welcome the project but we want half of our lost land in developed condition in the project area. The project promoter, Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited, has offered us one cottah against every bigha acquired but we don’t accept it,” said Kalobaran Mondal, the committee president and a former Trinamul president of Andal block.
Mondal, 54, a transporter, owns around 20 acres of single-crop land in Tamla, identified for acquisition.
“We will meet the Burdwan district magistrate tomorrow and place our new demand before him,” said Susanta Dutta, a spokesperson of the outfit.
On December 24 last year, the villagers had demanded direct talks with Bengal Aerotropolis and demanded jobs and shares as promised by the Jindals in Salboni.
The committee will also place its demand for direct talks with the developers.
Singapore’s Changi Airport International is said to have picked up a 26 per cent stake in the project. The final deal has not been signed, though.
The farmers are not the only bother for the project’s developers. Coal India objected to the project saying the site would block mining. The state government has written to the civil aviation ministry denying the allegation.
The Rs 10,000-crore aerotropolis needs 3,500 acres. Most of the land in the area is either single-crop or barren.