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UP gives in to farmers,defers Katesar land acquisition

The decision was taken on Sunday evening after a group of farmers blocked the Mirzapur-Sonebhadra highway.

Written by Express News Service | Lucknow |
May 30, 2011 1:13:35 am

Following an agitation by the farmers of Katesar village in Chandauli district against land acquisition by the Varanasi Development Authority to develop a cultural city along the Ganga,the government has decided to postpone the acquisition for the time being. The decision was taken on Sunday evening after a group of farmers blocked the Mirzapur-Sonebhadra highway.

“We are not going to take any land without the consent of the land-owner. There will be no forcible acquisition; we have assured the farmers,’’ said Vijay Kumar Tripathi,the District Magistrate of Chandauli.

The farmers,who have been sitting on a dharna at Katesar for about a week,wanted an assurance from the DM.

“The DM had called representatives of farmers to a guest house in Mugalsarai,but we refused as we did not want a repeat of Bhatta-Prasaul where the government had created a divide among the farmers. We asked the DM to come to a place where we are staging our dharna and talk to all the representatives,” said Shesh Nath,one of the farmers’ leaders who is also the district president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union.

Asked about their demands,Shesh Nath said,“The government wants to acquire 121 hectares of land in Katesar for the Varanasi Development Authority,but we do not wish to part with our fertile land.”

The project to develop a cultural city along Ganga on Varanasi-Chandauli border was conceptualised in 2008. The proposed cultural city will have museums,private universities,complexes promoting art. The notification under section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act,earmarking about 121 hectares of land in Katesar for the first phase of the project was done in June,2010. While the farmers have been voicing their concern since the very beginning,they staged a dharna at the site on April 25. They suspended the dharna on May 6,following an assurance that the land will not be acquired forcefully. However,farmers allege that irrespective of the assurance,the district administration brought out another notification to proceed with the acquisition. This led to a dhanra a week ago.

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