The farmers of two villages whose land was acquired for setting up the IT City under the previous SAD government have refused to accept the letters of intent (LoIs) issued by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA). They are supposed to take plots in the land pooling scheme which is part of Punjab’s relocation policy. GMADA has given 15-day time to the farmers to accept the LoIs.
According to the GMADA officials, they issued LoIs to around 40 farmers belonging to Rurka and Bakarpur villages a few days ago. A GMADA official told Chandigarh Newsline that they sent LoIs by post but the farmers did not accept the letters and almost all the letters were returned to them. The official said that if the farmers did not accept the letters, they would consider that the farmers had complied with their terms.
The bone of contention is the houses of some of the farmers that are located on the acquired land. The farmers say they do not want GMADA to take over their houses. “The LoIs were issued to around 40 farmers under the relocation policy in which we have to either give compensation or plots for rehabilitation of farmers whose land or houses are acquired for any project. The farmers are adamant that they will not vacate their homes which is not right,” an official said, requesting anonymity.
GMADA acquired land of Rurka and Bakarpur village for IT City in 2011. Compensation of Rs 1.70 crore per acre was paid. The relocation policy was formulated in 2014, following which LoIs were issued to the farmers for giving them residential plots under the land pooling scheme.
Gurmeet Singh, a farmer of Bakarpur village whose land was acquired for the project, alleged that it was high- handedness of GMADA as most of the farmers did not want the land having their houses to be given to GMADA. He added that some of the farmers had also approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court and in some cases the court had stayed acquiring the land but despite the fact, GMADA officials were sending the LoIs to all the farmers.
According to Gurmeet, around 100 acres of land of his Bakarpur village was acquired and many farmers had built their houses near their fields. Two or three farmers mistakenly accepted the LoIs which were sent through the post but the majority of them refused to do so as they found it dictatorial on the part of GMADA.
“Most of the farmers have settled the issue of their lands acquired for the project, but as far as our house are concerned, we are not to going to accept GMADA’s orders,” Gurmeet added.
An official in the land acquisition branch of GMADA said that if the farmers built their houses near their fields then it was not their fault as they had given compensation as per law and wanted to give the benefits which the farmers were entitled for under the relocation policy. When contacted, GMADA estate officer Mahesh Bansal said that he would check the status of the LoIs on Monday.