In a significant development, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday said that the state government was open to conceding the demand of farmers to give back possession of 91 acres acquired for the Poena thermal plant in Mansa district to owners who had declined to accept the compensation.
A decision to this effect was taken by Badal at a meeting with senior officers of the state government. Stating this here on Monday evening, a spokesperson of the chief minister's office said that the state government was committed to implementing its land acquisition policy in right earnest as it was alive to the sensitive issue and displacement of farmers.
Under the policy, private land would be acquired only if the land was needed for a defined public purpose at the actual market rate in addition to 30% solatium and 10% as non-litigation charges to fully compensate the farmers.
The spokesperson said that the state government had already issued three notifications, of these two were for acquiring 644 acres where no public agitation was witnessed and the third was for the acquisition of 240 acres in Gobindpura and other villages in its vicinity.
Of the second chunk of 240 acres, 166 acres had been acquired in Gobindpura alone, where the owners of 75 acres had already willfully accepted the payment in the form of cheques as compensation. However, the remaining chunk of 91 acres remains a contentious issue, as the owners have not accepted the compensation award.
Badal decided to formulate a new relief and resettlement package for the farmers whose land had been acquired for public purposes. This would be deliberated in the cabinet before the final approval. The package would also consider the problem of those farmers whose entire land holding had been acquired and were only left with their houses by giving them suitable compensation in lieu of house property. Likewise, the package was also likely to include a provision to give a suitable job to a member of the displaced family to secure their livelihood.