Land acquisition snags as locals reject compensation offer
Nov 28, 2016- The land acquisition process for the Budhigandaki Hydroelectric Project has hit fresh snag after landowners of Gorkha district disagreed to the compensation rate set by the Compensation Determination Committee. The committee on Saturday had fixed the compensation rate ranging from Rs524,000 to Rs835,000 per ropani for around 30,000 ropanies of land in Gorkha to be acquired by the project. The committee, under the leadership of the Chief District Officer, has categorised the land into five categories—paddy field, small farm land, land of market area, land that touches road and land near human settlement. Both paddy field and small farm land are further graded under one to four grades, with compensation for the first grade being highest. The committee has offered Rs835,000 per ropani for land of market area and Rs804,000 per ropani for land that touches road. It will provide Rs773,000 per ropani for land near human settlements. “Similarly first grade paddy field will get Rs741,000 per ropani, whereas second, third and fourth grade fields will get Rs710,000, Rs679,000 and Rs648,000, respectively,” said Laxmi Prasad Devkota, chairman of the Project Development Committee.
“The first grade of small farm land will get Rs617,000 per ropnai, whereas second, third and fourth grades will get Rs586,000, Rs555,000 and Rs524,000, respectively,” he said. However, the locals have rejected the offer and have launched a protest. They organised the rally and blocked the Prithvi Highway briefly on Sunday. The locals have demanded more than Rs1 million per ropani in compensation for their land. They have demanded their land be valued based on the rate offered by the government three years ago. The government, while acquiring 133 ropanies of land to build office and campsite for the project, had offered Rs795,000 per ropani. Now, the locals are demanding a 10 percent increment to the price per year for three consecutive years.
The compensation determination committee, however, is not willing to pay land compensation at the rate the locals have demanded. Devekota said those who are not aware of the benefits the project offers have rejected the offer. “On top of the rate fixed by the committee, we are offering a 15 percent hike to those who own less than 5 ropanies and 10 percent raise to those who own less than 10 ropanies,” said Devkota. “We have also requested the government to offer a ropani of residential land parcel and Rs1 million cash to build new house to each household displaced by the project.” The committee has recommended the government provide a 50 percent subsidy to the locals to purchase shares in the project. “Once the locals are aware of all the benefits, they will agree to the compensation rate offered by the committee,” said Devkota. “We will immediately hold talks and try to convince them.”