LUCKNOW: Pointing a finger at the procedure of land acquisition being followed by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for widening NH-56 in Jagdhishpur-Amethi block, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused the Modi government of ignoring pro-farmer policies of the erstwhile UPA government.
Rahul Gandhi, who was in the state capital to meet NHAI officials for demanding compensation for farmers whose land was acquired, said, “The procedure of land acquisition is not being followed by the authorities and the farmers residing along NH 56, as a result, were a harried lot.” He also claimed, besides NH-56, people people were facing problems because of land acquisition for at least six other NH projects in UP. "Amethi too is part of one of the projects,” Gandhi maintained.
According to sources, around 600 farmers and shopkeepers of Kathuara gram sabha segment of Jagdishpur-Amethi block were affected by the project.
Gandhi, flanked by UPCC chief Raj Babbar, Jitin Prasada and other Congress leaders, reached the NHAI office where over 100 farmers from his constituency Amethi were already waiting for him in the morning to petition the NHAI authorities.
Submitting a memorandum of demands to officers concerned, Gandhi and other signatories claimed that initially, 13 meter of land on both sides of the highway was acquired by NHAI in the first phase for widening the existing road.
Now, the second round of acquisition, petitioners claimed, was underway to construct a by-lane for parking trucks on a 200-meter land, along both sides of the highway, which threatened to displace around 100 families.
They added that people were neither informed nor given a chance to adequately represent their case. Also, no compensation against the new acquisition was given or promised, said Gandhi and the other signatories.
Citing an apex court order that the residents should be given compensation against the cost which went in construction of their houses and shops, Congress vice-president demanded relief for them.
The memorandum also mentioned that majority of the people affected by the project were living in the area since 1994. “They have constructed shops and houses on the land the lease of which was given to them by UP Industrial Development Corporation."
Accusing the present government of following a faulty land acquisition procedure, Rahul claimed that previous UPA government had framed Land Acquisition Act for the purpose but the present Modi government was trying to overlook it.
Rahul said, “Even we undertook a lot of projects in Amethi earlier. Huge stretches of land were acquired from the farmers, but the affair always remained very smooth and congenial.”
Chief general manager, NHAI, Rajiv Agarwal, however, said that compensation for land was not fixed by the Authority and that it was being decided by the government. "I will get a technical probe done into the issue,” he stated.
He assured the Congress leader that he would personally visit the site on Wednesday to take stock of the situation and do the needful as soon as possible to address the issues raised by them. "The project director, meanwhile, has been asked to look into the matter and submit the report to the government," said Agarwal.