Mohali farmers up in arms against land pooling | punjab | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Mohali farmers up in arms against land pooling

The grouse: Farmers claim this system, wherein farmers are promised plots for every acre acquired, doesn’t work for small farmers who need cash compensation.

punjab Updated: Jan 08, 2018 19:55 IST
Shub Karman Dhaliwal
Shub Karman Dhaliwal
Hindustan Times, Mohali
Mohali farmers,farmers up in arms,land pooling
Baldev Singh, a farmer in Bakarpur village near Aerocity Road, says authorities are forcing them to accept land pooling scheme, but they want money in return. (Karun Sharma/HT)

Eight years ago, Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) had acquired 15-acre land of Gurmeet Singh and other members of his family in Bakarpur village on the Aerocity Road under the land pooling scheme to build IT City adjacent to Aerocity. Under the scheme, against each acre of his acquired land GMADA was to give him 1,100 yards of land in the developed area of IT City or Aerocity.

As the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) is preparing to acquire 4,500 acres in the periphery of the Chandigarh International Airport, the lines of worry have started deepening on the face of Bakarpur village’s Gurmeet Singh and other residents here.

In the package of 1,100 yards, Singh was to be given plots measuring 500 yards, 300 yards , 200 yards, besides a showroom measuring 100 yards. “But till date I don’t have any idea which plots have been allotted to me and where is the location of my showroom,” said Gurmeet Singh.

GMADA officials had to beat a hasty retreat at several places where villagers asked them about the promised plots in lieu of land.

“Like me many others — Amarjeet Singh, Sohan Singh , Balihaar Singh, to name a few — are also suffering the same fate.” A strong wave of resentment is building up in the villages on the periphery of Aerocity and Chandigarh international airport against the decision of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) to acquire their land under the land pooling system.

GMADA has already announced its decision to acquire 4500 acres of land around the international airport. It is also conducting a social impact assessment of this initiative.

For the last several days, GMADA officials are trying to convince villagers to give their land to the authority. The 15 villages from which land will be acquired include Manoli, Chhatt, Badi, Sau, Kurdi, Kishanpur, Paton, Chau Majra, Matran, Bakarpur, Rurka, Safipur, Sainimajra (Premgarh), Naraingarh, and Kishanpura.

The GMADA chief administrator, Ravi Bhagat, said, “This land is being acquired to develop the area as a commercial, residential and Institutional hub. Since the international airport is located nearby, there will be a lot of demand for commercial activity and big institutions in the area.”

‘Those who opted for cash got it’

Gurbachan Singh, former sarpanch of Sainimajra village said, “ The land of many farmers of myvillage was also acquired and some of them had opted for land pooling system under which they were to be given plots in the developed area. Till now, they have not got the plots and have been visited GMADA office many times . ”

He further said the ones that opted for the money have already got cash and purchased land elsewhere. GMADA officials now are embarrassed when people ask to first tell them about their previous plots, said Gurbachan. Besides, the land was acquired by several colonisers with the active collaboration of Punjab government for expansion of Mohali, from Sectors 80 to 115. Land of several villages was acquired for this purpose.

GMADA officials had to beat a hasty retreat at several places where villagers asked them about the promised plots in lieu of land.

Bitter experience

Amrik Singh, sarpanch of Paton village, fumed, “Most of the small farmers are illiterate and want compensation in cash, which the authorities are not willing to provide. GMADA has no cash, it wants to do business without spending a paisa on the acquisition of land through the land pooling system.”

Calling land pooling financially unviable for small farmers, he said it will take several years before the area gets fully developed and the real estate starts commanding a profitable price. “The farmers will have to wait for many years to sell their land. What will small farmers who have barely two to three acres of land do to survive in the interregnum? Also, the government might take several years to allot the plots to them,” he said.

Sources in GMADA said this opposition to land pooling is prompting the authorities to introduce a component of cash compensation of up to 15% for farmers. The proposal will be sent to the cabinet for approval in the coming months. Villagers said the Aerocity may take many years to develop. “It takes a minimum of five years to develop a city, a farmer can’t wait that long,” said Satinder Singh of Manoli village.

“Only property dealers support the land pooling system, the farmers are against it,” he alleged.

‘We are clearing backlog’

“We have cleared a large backlog of cases in which farmers didn’t get residential plots in the land pooling scheme and the process is still on. It’s because of this that all the draw of lots that we have conducted recently have been done for farmers who opted for the land pooling scheme,” said Ravi Bhagat. He added, “We will make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes that were made in the past.”

First Published: Jan 08, 2018 14:24 IST