- Post Report, Kathmandu
Nov 27, 2016- Landowners in Gorkha district have demanded more than Rs1 million per ropani in compensation for their land to be acquired by the planned Budhigandaki Hydroelectric Project. During their tripartite meeting with the project development committee and the local administration held in the district on Saturday, the locals 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,” said Gopal Basnet, executive director of the project development committee. “The negotiation is under way and we are hopeful of reaching a deal within a week.” The project development committee, however, is not willing to pay land compensation at the rate the locals have demanded. It is planning to offer Rs500,000 to Rs 800,000 per ropani based on the type of land, according to a member of the compensation determination committee. “The mismatch is not very high,” said the member of the committee seeking anonymity. “We are planning to slightly increase our offer, while hoping the locals will also adopt some flexibility.”
The compensation determination committee, however, is yet to begin negotiations with the locals of Dhading who also need to be relocated. The project development committee currently in a hurry to acquire private land for the project amid constant pressure from Energy Minister Janardan Sharma to expedite the project’s development. In September, Minister Sharma had summoned the project’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 areas, land with road access and land near human settlements. Both paddy fields and small farmlands are further graded—one to four—with compensation for the first grade being the highest.
The project has to acquire around 58,000 ropanies of land sprawling across 27 VDCs of Gorkha and Dhading districts which will be inundated by the hydroelectric project. More than 8,000 households will be affected, 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. Likewise, 4,557 households will be partially affected, requiring proper compensation. The project is expected to cost around Rs200 billion. The project development committee has estimated that land acquisition and resettlement alone will cost Rs58 billion.