The decision to provide Rs 4 lakh per acre as compensation for land acquired from farmers for a power plant at Dhule was taken during the Congress-NCP regime in 2011 and discussed in the Assembly in 2011. The decision was given consent by district officials and the government citing it had got the nod from 85 per cent farmers whose land was being acquired. Assembly records show senior BJP MLA Jaikumar Rawal from Dhule had raised a starred question and demanded that compensation for land acquired from farmers for the power plant should be Rs 10 lakh per acre and not 4 lakh. Rawal is now a cabinet minister in the BJP-led government. He said: “I had persuaded (Ajit) Pawar to give Rs 10 to 20 lakh per acre. But officials did not enforce the decision.”
Ajit Pawar, the former deputy chief minister, who held the energy portfolio, had said in his reply: “The compensation given to farmers per acre was Rs 4 lakh.”
Assembly proceedings show Rawal had asked four questions: Is it true Dhule district’s decision to provide Rs 4 lakh per acre for power plant to farmers has been rejected by the farmers? Had the collectors committee meeting held to discuss the compensation ended in dispute? Is it true that farmers have demanded Rs 5 lakh per acre? What action has the government taken. If not what are the reasons for the delay? Pawar, in his reply to the first two questions had stated in the Assembly, “It is true.”
His reply to the third question was: “The district collector-headed committee had decided Rs 4 lakh per acre as compensation after getting consent from 85 per cent people whose land was to be acquired. On September 15, 2011, the process of land acquisition was sanctioned. On May 12, 2011, Dhule district officials moved the proposal to Nashik Collector. Various issues raised were also addressed. And there was no question of any delay in the process.”
Following Dharma Patil’s suicide over compensation, the BJP-led government has now decided to review the entire process and act against officials if found guilty. A senior cabinet minister, requesting anonymity, said: “Dharma Patil’s son said officials paid them less compensation as they refused to bribe them. Whereas, neighbours who got higher compensation paid some money to the officials.” The government said it will probe the allegations.
A source said: “The compensation given during Congress-NCP regime was much less. Whereas after coming to power, the BJP government has given the highest compensation to farmers. It is five times more than the ready reckoner rates.
It also allows farmers to go for direct negotiations with private players seeking land for any project.” The Congress and NCP leaders accused the government of failing to tackle farmers’ suicide. NCP’s Dhananjay Munde has termed it as government apathy towards farmers.