Land acquisition key issue: Rahul Gandhi | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Land acquisition key issue: Rahul Gandhi

delhi Updated: Aug 25, 2010 19:00 IST

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Ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the farmers' agitation in Uttar Pradesh over higher compensation for their land acquired for the Yamuna Expressway, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said land acquisition was an important issue.

"Land acquisition is a big and important issue," Gandhi told reporters outside parliament.

The Congress MP is likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to apprise him of the demands of farmers in Uttar Pradesh, party sources said.

The meeting comes a day ahead of the proposed march to parliament by the Rashtriya Lok Dal and some other political parties in support of the farmers' demands and the early passage of land acquisition bill.

Gandhi had paid a surprise visit Saturday to Tappal village in Aligarh district, the epicentre of the farmer protests, and assured them that he would raise their concerns at appropriate forums.

Farmers have been protesting at Tappal for the last three weeks demanding a substantial enhancement in the compensation offered to them for their lands acquired to build the 165-km Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway.

Two farmers and a police constable were killed when police opened fire on protesting farmers in the area Aug 14.

"What happened in Aligarh is very unfair," Gandhi said Wednesday.

The Congress has extended support to a statewide shutdown in Uttar Pradesh Wednesday called by farmers over their demand for higher compensation but the party is not supporting the farmers' proposed march to parliament Aug 26.

Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said the party cannot support a protest against its own government. Uttar Pradesh's ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has extended its support to the farmers' march to parliament.

The expressway, which is expected to reduce the driving time between New Delhi and Agra to about 90 minutes, will pass through Gautam Buddha Nagar (Noida), Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar (Hathras) and Mathura districts. It involves acquisition of land in 115 villages.

The compensation amount was increased from Rs.449 per square metre to Rs.570 per square metre by the state government after the farmers launched their protest.

But the farmers refused to withdraw their agitation and demanded compensation at the rate of Rs.880 per square metre that was paid in Greater Noida.