Sixty-three years after partition, farmers will get compensation for the 300 acres along the international border with Pakistan in Punjab, on which the Border Security Force (BSF) built a road to patrol the area.
The BSF never actually acquired the land on which runs the 11-feet wide road — for most part a dirt track — along a large part of the 553-km-long border.
But now that the authorities have started the acquisition process, identifying the owners — largely in Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts — proved to be a difficult exercise. For, old land records were hard to come by and the owners had forgotten that the land belonged to their family.
“I was not aware that the land belonged to my family till revenue officials came knocking on my door,” said Aman Sandhu, a farmer from the border town of Attari.
The Punjab government has demanded R20.59 crore from the Centre as compensation to pay up to R10 lakh for an acre to nearly 2,000 farmers mostly living in Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Ferozepur districts.
“After we get the money from the Centre, we will formally issue a notice of acquisition under section 4 of the Punjab land acquisition Act,” said Punjab home department secretary AR Talwar.
The issue surfaced when a Punjab legislator questioned the state government in 2007. The state financial commissioner (revenue) took up the matter with the home department, which admitted that no land had been acquired.
Then, the union home ministry — to which the BSF reports — was brought into the picture. Admitting the lapse, the ministry’s department of border management asked the state to send details of the land.
After a two-year exercise by the Punjab revenue department to locate the owners of the land and submitted a claim of R 20.59 crore.