Land acquisition to begin from mid-Nov
- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu
Nov 6, 2016- Land acquisition for 1,200MW Budhi Gandaki Hydropower Project is set to begin from mid-November as the compensation determination committee has completed categorisation of land parcels to be acquired. The Budhi Gandaki Hydroelectric Project Development Committee is in a hurry to acquire private land amid constant pressure from Energy Minister Janardan Sharma to expedite the project’s development. In September, Sharma summoned the project development committee’s officials and directed them to be prepared to distribute compensation to households to be displaced by the project within three months. The compensation determination committee has categorised land into five categories—paddy field, small farm land, land of market area, land that has road access and land near human settlement—according to Laxmi Prasad Devkota, chairman of the project development committee.
Paddy field and small farm land are further graded—one to four—with the compensation for the first grade being the highest. The compensation determination committee, however, is yet to fix land prices. “Within a week, we will hold a meeting of stakeholders, including representatives of land owners, and fix the price,” said Devkota. “By mid-November, at least one landowner will get first instalment of the compensation.” With the help from Survey Offices and Land Revenue Offices of Gorkha and Dhading districts, the project’s officials recently completed verification and classification of majority of land parcels to be acquired. Verification and classification of remaining land parcels completed within a week. According to Devekota, officials from the project and Survey Offices and Land Revenue Offices are still on the field. Around 58,000 ropanies of land which will be inundated by the hydroelectric project sprawls across 27 VDCs of both the districts. Acquisition of all the private land plots, however, might take some time as the budget allocated by the government doesn’t match the cost required for the purpose. The Finance Ministry has allocated Rs5.33 billion for the current fiscal year for the development of the project. But the project development committee has estimated the land acquisition and resettlement alone will cost Rs58 billion. However, Devkota said funds shortage will not be an issue while acquiring land. “Since the Finance Ministry has clearly said it will allocate additional budget if required, I don’t think we face any resource crunch,” he said. “Also, by this date, Rs2.5 billion has been collected as infrastructure tax on petroleum products for financing the project.”Then Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel, presenting the annual budget, had announced to impose Rs5 per litre infrastructure tax on petroleum products to fund the Budhi Gandaki project. More than 8,000 households will be affected by the project, according to the latest report by the project development committee. The report states the reservoir of the storage project will completely submerge 3,560 households and they need to be resettled to alternative locations with proper compensation.