Two days after an 84-year-old farmer from Dhule attempted suicide at the Mantralaya here, state Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule said the government has decided to grant Rs 10 lakh per hectare to all farmers whose lands were acquired for a thermal power plant, as ex gratia, in the next eight days. However, the family of Dharma Patil, who is in hospital after he consumed poison, rejected the offer and said they want rightful compensation for their land.
Officials said Bawankule had called a meeting of officials handling the construction of a power plant in Vikharan village in Dhule. The project was sanctioned in 2009 and required 824 hectares, including 675 hectares of private land in Methi and Vikharan villages and 149 hectares of government land. Of this, 529 hectares has been acquired, which includes 476 hectares of private land and 45 hectares of government land. In 2012, the compensation amount of Rs 47.60 crore was given to farmers for acquiring 476 hectares private land. For the rest of the 199 hectares, 138 farmers have been demanding higher compensation, said an official.
“The land of 138 farmers was acquired under the Land Acquisition Act and they should move court as per norms for seeking higher compensation. But they haven’t moved court. Still, we have decided to grant an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh per hectare to all these farmers,” said Bawankule.
“As owners of the 476 hectares land negotiated with the authorities directly, they got a compensation of Rs 10 lakh per hectare. The farmers on the 199 hectares insisted that it must be acquired under the Land Acquisition Act. As the ready reckoner rate was less, they received lower compensation compared to other farmers,” he explained.
However, the Patil family rejected the offer saying they don’t need an ex-gratia amount. “We want the rightful compensation and don’t want any ex-gratia. We have given our two hectare irrigated land, with 600 mango trees, drip irrigation, a borewell and a well. Our neighbouring farmer got Rs 1.89 crore for his land which measured less than two acre. We just want justice and the rightful compensation. My father would have never gone to such an extreme step just for Rs 10-15 lakh,” said Narendra, 35-year-old son of Dharma Patil.
Dharma, who consumed poison on Monday evening, is currently admitted to JJ Hospital and is still in a critical condition. Asked about the compensation difference issue raised by Narendra, Bawankule said, “The compensation has been given based on land valuation and orchard valuation. The horticulture department did the orchard plant valuation and the compensation was based on that.”
Meanwhile, Anil Gote, BJP legislator from Dhule, demanded action against agents allegedly involved in the land acquisition process. “The officials and agents involved in the process are forcing the farmers to take the extreme step. The action should be taken against those involved,” said Gote.