The Centre has asked the Punjab government to ensure timely handing over of physical possession of land, “free of cost” and “pending formal acquisition”, to the concerned agency for Kartarpur Corridor’s proposed Integrated Check Post (ICP), which will have amenities for the pilgrims on the Indian side.
Reacting to the development, a Punjab government functionary said “We are trying to figure out what exactly Centre wants when it says ensure possession ‘free of cost’.” Asked about Centre seeking physical possession of land, pending formal acquisition, Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner Vipul Ujjwal said, “We can take possession of those things which we own. Until and unless ownership is not transferred, possession cannot be given.”
He added that “pending payment”, if a landowner agrees to transfer ownership rights, then it is possible to take physical possession of the land, but for that NHAI will have to first make ‘acquisition declaration’ as per the law.
In a letter to Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh written on January 22, Ministry of Home Affairs (Border Management) Joint Secretary Nidhi Khare, while referring to the meetings on December 10, 2018 and on January 15 this year chaired by the Union Home Secretary, said: “It was decided therein that the land for ICP and other works connected with Kartarpur Sahib Corridor will be acquired by state government of Punjab on priority. State government of Punjab had also assured that pending formal acquisition of the land, physical possession of the land will be made available by the state government to enable the agencies concerned to commence the work. For cre1ation of ICP/Passenger amenities for this prestigious project in a time bound manner, may I take this opportunity to request your personal attention in ensuring timely handing over of possession of land, free of cost to the concerned agency.”
Ujjwal said: “The process to acquire nearly 60 acres for a stretch of 4.25 km has formally started and the process to acquire 50 acres for ICP and passenger facilities is likely to start in a day or two.”
Punjab Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Vijay Inder Singla said, “Right now, NHAI is making the payment (for acquisition). Till now, Centre has not sent any proposal to the state government to do anything. At least, I am not aware of this.” He added: “We are ready to do anything for this project.”
Acquisition proceedings, according to officials, for the 4.25 kilometer of stretch up to the point where the proposed ICP is to come up, have started and about 58 acres of land of three villages has been identified for the acquisition for the proposed corridor project. Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) will be the nodal agency at the Integrated Check Post.