Dadupur-Nalvi irrigation scheme: Land return to farmers easier said than done
The Supreme Court in Tata Singur case of West Bengal had clearly held that “the compensation which has already been paid to the cultivators shall not be recoverable by the state government as they have been deprived of the occupation and enjoyment of their land for the last 10 years.Updated: Aug 29, 2018 18:04 IST
The de-notification of about 830 acres acquired for the Dadupur Nalvi irrigation scheme, implying that the land will now be returned to the farmers, is well on course to become the proverbial albatross around the neck of Manohar Lal Khattar government. The BJP government has decided to return the land to farmers on grounds that the irrigation scheme was unfruitful and the acquired land unviable.
Will harm BJP politically
The Khattar cabinet had approved the de-notification of around 1,019 acres in 2017 despite not having a legal provision at that juncture. Even after getting an amendment incorporated in the new land acquisition law, the government will find it tough to successfully implement the decision to return the land.
The decision to make farmers shell out compensation amount along with the interest will also adversely impact BJP’s prospects in at least three northern Haryana districts of Yamunanagar, Ambala and Kurukshetra. A policy being prepared by the state government to spell out the mode of return of land and the August 3 order to de-notify the land speaks of the interest to be levied on the farmers. CM Khattar had however said in his public statements that no interest would be charged on the compensation money to be paid by the farmers. Khattar had also said that government will not force the farmers to take back the acquired land.
However, the August 3 order does not have any room for making such exceptions.
AICC leader and Congress MLA from Kaithal Randeep Surjewala said that the decision to de-notify this land is a clear departure from the solemn promise made by Khattar that no one will be forced to take back the land and pay up compensation. “No one gains from this return. The state exchequer and the farmers, both lose in the process. It is a decision which shows bankruptcy of mind of this government,” Surjewala said.
On being asked as to how about 830 acres have been de-notified when the council of ministers had approved de-notification of about 1,019 acres, principal secretary, irrigation, Anurag Rastogi said that about 189 acres is viable land since everything stands settled with regards to it acquisition process.
Asking farmers to pay up legally unsound
Meanwhile, legal experts said that it’s a matter of time before the amendment made by the Haryana government to incorporate a provision in the right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement to return unviable land back to farmers, is challenged in a court and struck down.
The Supreme Court in Tata Singur case of West Bengal had clearly held that “the compensation which has already been paid to the cultivators shall not be recoverable by the state government as they have been deprived of the occupation and enjoyment of their land for the last 10 years.” The land acquisition for Dadupur-Nalvi irrigation scheme started as early as 1987 and the process continued till 2009.
Time consuming exercise
The process to return the land will be a time consuming exercise since the 830 acres notified by the irrigation and water resources department for return to the farmers is spread over four circles — Hathnikund barrage circle, Jagadhri, Sarasvati heritage circle, Kurukshetra, Shahbad Nalvi feeder and SYL WS circle, Ambala. It involves hundreds of land pockets of varied size in the ranging of 0.04 acre to 39 acres.
The government has also decided that about 5.90 acres acquired for Dadupur-Nalvi irrigation scheme land which was utilised for construction of a road to link Jagadhari-Chhachhrauli road with Jagadhari-Ambala road and inaugurated by assembly Speaker Kanwar Pal in May this year would be retained by the government. “Many more such complicated situations may come up during the process of return of land,” said an irrigation department official.
First Published: Aug 29, 2018 18:04 IST