Lalu Prasad’s Railway Ministry has acquired 353 hectares of land in Rae Bareli, paving the way for Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s bhoomi poojan for the controversial railway coach factory. The ministry has acquired the land through an extraordinary gazette notification.
The UP government had on October 11 cancelled the allotment of 189.25 hectares of the 542 hectares of land required for the project. But the Railways issued the notification on October 13, announcing its intention to acquire 353 hectares and on October 16, it finally issued the gazette notification to complete the process.
Chief Minister Mayawati had said, while cancelling the allotment, that the government had received a large number of complaints from farmers. Now, she has directed principal secretary Netram to probe all the aspects of the 189.25 hectares of land.
The notification said 199 objections have been “received by the competent authority and the same have been disallowed”. It said the acquired land would now vest in the Centre.
Sonia’s representative Kishorilal Sharma, who handles her constituency works, said the Railway Ministry had been negotiating with farmers for compensation, offering Rs 4.75 lakh per acre. He said the amount could go up.
However, Lal Bahadur Singh, deputy chief engineer, construction-II, Northern Railways, said the disputed land was also under the possession of the Railways, as the Allahabad High Court had ordered a status quo. The case will be heard on October 22. But Sharma told HT the bhoomi poojan would not be possible until the 189 acres of land was allotted to the project, as the project needed 542 hectares.