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Auto plan hits relief hump

india Updated: Sep 20, 2006 14:56 IST

FORMER UNION Minister and Rajya Sabha member Vikram Verma is unhappy with the compensation package offered by the district administration to farmers whose land is being acquired for the proposed Rs 500-crore Auto Testing Track in Pithampur.

In fact, a section of the BJP feels that the project is not beneficial for the State at all. It feels that the cost-benefit ratio of the project is detrimental to the State’s interest.

The project is non-manufacturing with no scope for employment generation for locals. However, it will entail acquisition of 4,000 hectares land belonging to farmers. That was why Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh had rejected the project, the BJP men claimed.

Recently, a delegation of farmers met Vikram Verma and sought his intervention to ensure adequate compensation package. The farmers complained to him that the compensation package against acquisition of their fertile land was only Rs 60,000 to Rs 65,000 per bigha, as against Rs 1.5 to Rs 2 lakh per bigha to farmers whose land had been acquired for the nearby Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

The delegation was also sore about sitting BJP MLA Jaswant Singh’s silence over the issue. Earlier, a delegation also met Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan during the Kisan Panchayat on August 30 at the CM’s residence.

Local BJP leaders feel that if adequate compensation was not offered to farmers for land, the party’s poll prospects in the region would be adversely affected. Some BJP leaders plan to raise the issue in party fora as well.

Verma said he would draw the government’s attention towards the Pithampur farmers’ problem and arrange their meeting with the Chief Minister. The State Government should address the problem soon before it might assume alarming proportions, he added.

When asked if the delegation had complained to him about any indifferent role of the sitting BJP MLA from Dhar Jaswant Singh, Verma refused to comment on the same.

Verma, however, said the farmers of about eight to ten villages are agitated. If the government fails to heed their voice they might take to the streets, he cautioned.

He said in his view time had come when there should be a debate at national level and Madhya Pradesh should take lead in that as to what should be the mode of compensation to farmers and what should be the cost of development.

Farmers whose lands are acquired lose ownership forever on their land. They have to be content with one-time compensation package, that is not too handsome to meet their requirements. Their next generations are also deprived of the source of livelihood what they would legally inherit otherwise. Whereas the industrialists who set up their plants/projects on the acquired land and their next generations reap benefits for all the time to come on the land, he added.

Industries and Commerce Minister Babulal Gaur said he was not aware of any such grievances of farmers.