Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Airport set for flight, farmers grounded

Airport set for flight, farmers grounded
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: With the signing of State support and land lease agreements, the proposed International Airport at Devanahalli is ready for take off. But problems of farmers who lost their lands for the project are far from over.

The sons of the soil in Devanahalli, Arasinakunte, Bavapura, Chikanhalli, Gangamuthanhalli, Mylanhalli, Begur, Doddasonne and other villages are not against the project coming up on lands, which is their only source of livelihood. All that they demand is adequate compensation and proper rehabilitation. Unless that is done, people are not willing to move out of their villages.

While farmers have lost lands, others in villages like Arasinakunte have lost everything. The entire village has been acquired and people have been asked to move out to Balepura, where free sites have been allotted to them.

‘‘We feel like orphans in our own land,’’ said Chikkatayappa of Arasinakunte. ‘‘What can we do with the meagre compensation? They have given Rs. 5 lakh for an acre. Land prices have increased several fold.

How can we purchase lands for farming?’’ asked Venkatesh, another villager. Land prices in Devanahalli and surrounding villages have skyrocketed. They now stand anywhere between Rs. 15 and Rs. 50 lakh an acre. That has certainly helped people whose lands were not acquired for the project.

Villagers complain that many are yet to get the full compensation. ‘‘We have to bribe many people to get compensation. Wherever needed, our signatures were taken and now no one is concerned about our problems,’’ villagers alleged.

The Government has also promised to give Rs. 5,000 to transport their belongings to Balepura.‘‘Unless all our dues are settled, we will not leave the villages,’’ they said.

Last week, the Government and the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) signed the State support and land lease agreements paving way for financial closure in the next one month. As per the land lease agreement, the State Government will transfer about 4,000 acres of land acquired for the project to BIAL.

The State support agreement relates to provision of State’s financial support of Rs. 350 crore soft loan which is repayable after 10 years. Ground work is expected to start from March this year.


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