New entity planned to aid land acquisition process
- Post Report, Kathmandu
Dec 28, 2016- The Energy Ministry has been mulling establishing an entity to help the Budhi Gandaki Hydroelectric Project Development Committee in land acquisition and rehabilitation of locals who will be displaced by the 1,200 MW scheme. The proposed body will work with the project development committee and help it to acquire land and resettle the residents, according to the Energy Ministry. The entity will be headed by a coordinator and consist of experts. Last week, the ministry published a wanted notice for the post of coordinator while the specialists will be picked directly by the government. “After the organization is formed, the development of Budhi Gandaki Hydro will be expedited,” said Gokarna Raj Pantha.
Presenting the budget statement for this fiscal year, the finance minister had mentioned forming a separate entity headed by a joint secretary-level official to speed up land acquisition and resettlement of the residents. The project development committee has been having a hard time acquiring land for the project which is spread over Gorkha and Dhading districts. The ompensation determination committee headed by the chief district officer of Gorkha has fixed the compensation amount for around 30,000 ropanis of land to be taken over by the project.
Last month, the committee fixed the land compensation amount which ranges from Rs524,000 to Rs835,000 per ropani. However, locals are not satisfied with the government’s offer and have mounted a protest. The residents have demanded more than Rs1 million per ropani in compensation for their land. They want their holdings to be valued based on the rate offered by the government three years ago. At that time, the government had offered Rs795,000 per ropani for 133 ropanis to establish an office building and campsite for the project. Land owners are saying that this amount should be increased by 10 percent yearly increments for three years. Following the intense protests by landowners in Gorkha, the price determination committee has been hesitating to fix the compensation amount for land in Dhading district. The new entity is expected to help the committee determine the land compensation amount in Dhading besides convincing Gorkha locals to accept the money offered by the government. The project needs to acquire 58,000 ropanis of land spread over 27 VDCs in Gorkha and Dhading districts which will be inundated by the reservoir of the hydroelectric project. More than 8,000 families will have to leave their homes, according to the latest report by the project development committee. The report states that the reservoir of the storage project will completely submerge 3,560 homes and the occupants need to be resettled with proper compensation. Likewise, 4,557 families will be partially affected and they need to be paid appropriate compensation.