HT Explainer | Land pooling scheme: Good on paper, but failure on ground
The land pooling scheme was conceived by the Punjab government for various housing, commercial and institutional projects about a decade ago. The Punjab Urban and Development Authority (PUDA) was mandated to implement it. Under the scheme, land is taken from farmers to develop big housing, commercial projects. In lieu of the land, farmers are offered housing and commercial sites.
However, many farmers have had an unpleasant experience so far.
When was scheme introduced?
The Greater Mohali Development Authority (GMADA) implemented this scheme at Mohali in 2009 for the development of Aerocity, and later for the adjoining IT city.
What was offered to farmers?
Under the scheme, the GMADA authorities offered 1,121 square yards of land in the developed area to farmers for each acre of acquired land for Aerocity and IT park. Each farmer was to be given a commercial site measuring 121 square yards and 968 square yards of housing plots of various dimensions such as 500 square yards, 300 square yards and 200 square yards.
Who was to decide compensation?
Land acquisition collector (LAC) appointed by the department of urban development takes this decision. The collector decides how much share farmers will be given in the plots for residential and commercial purposes developed on the acquired land.
What are other benefits for farmers?
The farmers are not charged any stamp fee for getting the plots registered in their names under this scheme. They are also given an additional time of two years or more for construction on the plots allotted to them for housing and commercial purposes. Besides this, the farmers are paid rental from the day of land acquisition till the date of physical possession of plots under this scheme. This rental is fixed by the district collector concerned.
How much land was acquired?
Around 1685 acres of land was acquired for the IT city adjoining the Aerocity in Mohali in 2012.
What has been the experience of farmers?
Many farmers who agreed to the land pooling scheme in 2012 have had an unpleasant experience with the scheme. Jarnail Singh of Matran village, Gurmeet Singh and Surjit Singh of Bakarpur village, are among the victims of GMADA’s land pooling scheme. These farmers allege that the authorities have neither paid them the annual land rental nor given them the possession of the plots and commercial sites allotted to them on paper.
How many farmers actually benefited?
It is surprising but GMADA officials don’t have the exact figures of the farmers who opted for the land pooling scheme. An official called it a “very cumbersome process”. However, the total land acquired under the land pooling scheme from the farmers was 1685 acres.
What has been the spike in rental?
The farmers and the GMADA officials say they were promised an annual land rental of 30,000 per acre under the land pooling scheme in 2012. At present, the annual rental of farmland around Mohali is between 40,000 and 50,000 for an acre. The land, which doesn’t have irrigation facility, also fetches at least 30,000 per acre.
What has been the track record in country?
Senior Vice President of Bhartiya Kissan Union (Lakhowal) Kirpal Singh says there is a trust deficit between farmers and government agencies. “Farmers prefer to sell their land to private realtors who make payment instantly and don’t harass them. Government development projects hang fire for years. In 2012, GMADA officials took away our land, our only source of income, but are yet to pay us even the annual rental, what to talk of allotting us plots.”
How much more land is GMADA planning to acquire?
In all, the GMADA officials have decided to acquire 5,438 acres of land in the periphery of the airport, Aerocity and new Chandigarh. The villages that will be affected include Manoli, Chhatt, Badi, Sau, Kurdi, Kishanpur, Paton, Chau Majra, Matran, Bakarpur, Rurka, Safipur, Sainimajra(Premgarh), Naraingarh, and Kishanpura.