After spending Rs 304 crore on the construction of Dadupur Nalvi canal over the past three decades, Haryana government has now withdrawn the irrigation scheme.
The state Cabinet headed by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Wednesday decided to denotify 1,019 acre of land acquired for the project and decided to return the same to the farmers. The government said that it has not found the scheme “feasible”after enhancement of the compensation to the farmers following a May 2016 order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Terming the decision as “anti-farmer”, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) has announced to challenge the decision before the High Court.
“The scheme was meant to provide water to even those areas which fall under the category of dark zone because of low level of underground water. This project was launched after long pending demand of the farmers,” said Gurnam Singh Chaduni, BKU state president.
“The government kept the land for years after paying the compensation amount to the farmers. Now, we have heard that the government would ask the farmers to return the compensation money along with interest at the rate of 15%. This is cruelty to the farmers,” Chaduni alleged.
The Dadupur Nalvi scheme was initiated in year 1985 and project was approved by the government for Rs 13 crore for irrigation and recharging of ground water in the Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra and Ambala districts. For implementing the scheme, 190.67 acre land was acquired during 1987-90. But scheme could not be further taken up. Later on, during the Bhupinder Singh Hooda led Congress government in 2005, the project was again approved for a cost of Rs. 267.27 crore.
According to available data, 2246.53 acre land was to be acquired/used for construction of this scheme. Out of this, the irrigation department acquired 1019.29 acre land for construction of main channels.
Acquisition of this land cost Rs 75.98 crore as per the award announced by the authorities to give compensation to the farmers. Additionally Rs 116.35 crore was paid as enhancement as per lower court orders. Thus till date a total of Rs 192.33 crore has been paid to land owners for 1019.29 acre land. The government also incurred expenditure of over Rs 111 crore on execution of these three channels.
The land owners whose land was acquired from 2005 onwards were not satisfied with the award of lower courts and approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The High Court in 2016 awarded compensation at the rate of Rs. 116.83 lakh per acre plus incidental charges. As per the judgment of the High Court, the government says, an amount of Rs. 566.49 crore has become payable in respect of 167.27 acres of land only. “Now, the government did not find the scheme feasible and hence decided to abandon the scheme and denotify the acquired land,” said a senior officer.
According to the government, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in 2013 had observed that “the reply of irrigation department regarding usefulness of the project was not convincing as the primary objective of the project of providing canal irrigation could not be fulfilled.”
Oppositions hits back
Former Haryana Chief Parliamentary Secretary and INLD leader Rampal Majra said that Dadupur Nalvi canal project was meant to recharge water in the dark zone areas where even the farmers are not allowed to have tubewells for irrigation purposes. Senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said that the new decision would leave the farmers with about one lakh hectares of land in 225 villages without irrigation.