Congress legislators staged a walkout from the Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Tuesday against minister’s reply over non-payment of compensation to farmers whose lands were acquired in 2007 for a proposed auto testing track at Pithampur in Dhar district.
Jitu Patwari of the Congress said the state government acquired 1,080 acres for the Pithampur auto testing track in 2007 but is yet to pay them Rs 1,800 crore compensation.
He said the Supreme Court in September 2015 asked the state to pay compensation in four months. The police lathi-charged the farmers, who were protesting against the delay in compensation on February 22.
Commerce and industries minister Yashodhara Raje said the state acquired 1,405 hectares of private land in 10 villages since 2007. Rs 111.25 crore was set aside for compensation but the farmers didn’t accept the package and moved court.
The Dhar district court ruled that compensation of Rs 615.91 crore be paid but the decision was challenged in the high court, which ruled that compensation be hiked on both irrigated and un-irrigated land and an interest of 15% be paid, running up the compensation cost to Rs 2000 crore.
The matter was challenged in Supreme Court, which in September 2015 reduced the per hectare amount payable but asked the government to pay the amount in four months, the minister said.
By 2014-15, Rs 347.17 crore had been paid to the farmers and Rs 147 crore was provided in 2015-16. A provision of `800 crore has been made in budget 2016-17 for compensation and the amount will be paid in 4th supplementary, Raje said.
But Patwari sought to know reason behind in delay in payment despite the court order.
He said he has obtained RTI documents, which suggest that the Dhar collector has asked the state for money which has not been given.
He said the delay in payment of compensation gives the state a bad name and is a disincentive for industrialisation.
The minister said the auto testing track was an ambitious project and she was trying to resolve issues for last two years.
She said she was aware that there were problems in the settlement of compensation and the government would try to fix it.
But Raje refused to give a final date for settlement of the compensation issue, saying she realised that the government was moving towards contempt of court but she was helpless as she was not the finance minister.
Govind Singh of the Congress sought to know if cases against farmers injured in the police lathicharge would be withdrawn. The minister said she will look into it.
Ramniwas Rawat of the Congress made a political attack, saying that the industries minister has resolved issues in the last two years and blamed the chief minister saying he has been in office since 2005. He said that the CM is also in the House and the matter should be clarified. Raje objected to Rawat’s statement.
Congress legislator Bala Bachchan announced a walkout, saying they were not satisfied with the answer given by the minister.