The government has promised jobs to persons who have lost land to the New Township project.
Housing minister Gautam Deb told the Assembly on Thursday that the government was firm on compensating those whose land it had taken over. “We had to take over large tracts of land from several people. Though we have paid them a reasonable sum, we have promised to provide them with an alternative place of living and also employment,” Deb told the House.
The minister said 56 buildings had already been constructed, exclusively for them, at Rajarhat and distributed to them at a nominal price. Besides, three per cent of the township land had been kept reserved for them.
“It is not our policy to take away land and drive out the owners. We take over land only after we provide the owners with an alternative. I want to make it very clear that the government will first arrange accommodation in the township for those who lost their land and then think of the others,’’ he said.
Earlier, Congress chief whip Abdul Mannan raised the issue and demanded a clarification from the housing minister on the rehabilitation steps taken.
Deb said 2,000 youths from the families that had lost their land had been given job opportunities in the township. They were awarded contracts for various unskilled work through cooperatives. Already, 33 such cooperatives had been formed and all had got work orders. More cooperatives were in the offing. “Apart from the contracts, these youths will be given training in various fields so that they can get employment in other places or be self-employed,” the minister said.
Replying to another question from Mannan, Deb said all categories of people, from the economically-weaker section to the high-income group, will have the opportunity to own a plot in the new township, and the cost has been fixed accordingly.
Deb told the House that a minimum of Rs 1.35 lakh per cottah has been spent to develop the township and build up infrastructure, including a sewerage system, power, drinking water and other basic needs. “The Rajarhat township will be a model for the country. We have not compromised with quality of work and adopted all modern techniques, involving the best technicians and engineers to build the township,’’ the minister asserted.
A large chunk of land, earmarked for the Formula One racing complex, has been kept untouched. “However, as there has been no correspondence from the organisers, we may have to use the land for other purposes,’’ the minister said.