The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) Tuesday set up a probe into the incident of a group of farmers from Vadodara allegedly taking possession of moveable assets from the department’s office in Gandhinagar on Saturday to recover their long-pending dues as ordered by a civil court.
JP Gupta, Managing Director of SSNNL, said Tuesday that the department has set up an inquiry into the matter where a group of farmers allegedly “seized computers and peripherals” from the office of the department, citing the “execution of an attachment warrant” issued by a Vadodara court over pending compensation to be handed out by the SSNNL to the farmers for land acquired in 1988 to build the Narmada canal.
Gupta said, “There were multiple litigations in this particular case– which is of the several land acquisitions made by SSNNL in the 1980s. The SSNNL had even paid the compensation decided by one local court. Thereafter, the matter went to the Gujarat High Court and was referred back to the district court, which again specified the amount of compensation… The total amount that is yet to be paid is only about Rs 30 lakh as a majority of the compensation has been paid. The only reason why this sum was yet to be handed out was that the legal department was in the process of deciding on a review of the matter. There was a miscommunication otherwise SSNNL has paid nearly Rs 300 crores as land compensations for the projects so far.”
Gupta added that he has sought a report from the department to ascertain if the group of farmers and their advocate indulged in vandalism in the name of the court warrant.
“We had even sanctioned depositing the amount in court but there was a lag… However, even if the court has issued an attachment warrant, it cannot be executed by a group of persons and their lawyer. The court officers arrive to oversee the procedure of property attachment and we would have complied with court orders. We are yet to determine how the group of persons and their advocate gained entry and seized property… We do not know if the officers present in that office on the day have seen the court notice cited by the group. I have sought a report from the officer and we will decide our further course of action based on it,” Gupta said.
A group of 25 farmers from Abhol village in Padra taluka of Vadodara district have claimed that the SSNNL owes them a total of Rs 68.92 lakh at the rate of Rs 1,625 per arey (about 100 sq metres) of land acquired in 1988.
The litigants have contended that the SSNNL paid them Rs 1,400 per arey in 2005, which was Rs 225 per arey lesser than the promised compensation.
The advocate of the farmers has said that the court had dismissed the SSNNL’s review petition earlier this month and once again issued attachment warrants so that farmers can seize the movable property and recover their dues by selling it.