PROPOSED LAND COMPENSATION PLAN DRAWS MIXED REACTIONS
Most people have expressed dissatisfaction while some have welcomed saying public should also make sacrifices for the development of the 1,200MW project
Jan 6, 2017- The compensation amount offered for the land needed for the Budhi Gandaki Hydroelectric Project has drawn mixed reactions from locals. The scheme will acquire land spread over 13 VDCs in Dhading district. Most people have expressed dissatisfaction while some have welcomed it saying that the public should also make sacrifices for the development of the 1,200 MW national pride project. Last Tuesday, the compensation determination committee headed by the chief district officer classified the land into five categories, and fixed ompensation amounts ranging from Rs524,000 to Rs835,000 per ropani. Dissatisfied locals said the rate offered by the project was quite low compared to the market price, and that they would not accept it. “The government has offered just Rs835,000 for land that is currently traded at more than Rs1 million per ropani,” said Sudip Chatakuli, a local from Salyantar. “The rate list published by the project development committee is totally unscientific.” The land to be acquired by the project has been classified as paddy field, small farm land, land in market area, land adjoining a road and land near human settlements. Paddy fields and small farm lands have been further classed into four grades, with the compensation amount for the first grade being the highest. Locals have demanded that the current land classification be scrapped and the land re-categorised. According to them, a majority of the people have registered their land as fourth grade to save on land taxes. “Therefore, only a few parcels of land are classed under the first grade in the official records of the land survey office,” said Phadindra Chatakuli, former chairman of Salyantar VDC. “With this money, we will not be able to buy an equivalent piece of land elsewhere.” Also, most of the fields have been upgraded after irrigation facilities were provided, but this has not been reflected in the government records, he added.
Some people have welcomed the compensation rate saying that the general public should support the national pride project. But they have demanded that the compensation be paid immediately and as a lump sum. “We are satisfied with the rate offered to us,” said Sushil Chandra Itani, a Dhading local. “We also need to make sacrifices for the development of the national pride project. But the government should be serious about our resettlement.” Laxmi Prasad Devkota, chairman of the project development committee, acknowledged that some of the concerns raised by locals were genuine, and hoped that the Home Ministry would review the rate fixed by the compensation determination committee. According to Devkota, those who are not satisfied with the compensation are not aware of the extra benefits offered by the project. “On top of the rate fixed by the committee, we are offering a 15 percent bonus to those who own less than 5 ropanis, and a 10 percent bonus to those who own less than 10 ropanis,” he said. “We have also requested the government to offer a ropani of residential land and Rs1 million in cash to build a new house to each household displaced by the project.” The committee has recommended to the government to provide a 50 percent subsidy to 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.