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Tillers fall ill in fight for compensation

Patna, Sept. 4: Two farmers sitting on a fast-unto-death since August 26 to protest against alleged irregularities in payment of compensation for land acquired at Amhara in the district’s Bihta block were hospitalised today.

Sahdev Rai and Kaushal Kishore were, however, discharged from Ruban hospital following treatment and they went back to join the agitation at Amhara, around 40km southwest of Patna.

Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (Biada), through the state government, acquired over 1,500 acres in Bihta for the upcoming IIT campus and an industrial park. But problem arose when irregularities were alleged in payment for the land acquisition.

Ajit Singh, one of the agitating farmers, said: “We want one-project single-rate scheme on all land acquired. The farmers have not received the same amount of compensation money from the Biada. The amount varies between Rs 42,000 per cottah and Rs 1.5 lakh per cottah. The government must ensure jobs for the farmers’ children. The farmers and labourers should get priority after construction starts at the site. We want the 2007 land reforms policy to be implemented in the state as early as possible. Everything would be transparent then.”

Around 536 acres have been allotted to the IIT. “Irregularities are maximum in the case of plots acquired for IIT,” added Ajit.

District magistrate (DM) N. Saravana Kumar said: “None of the farmers was cheated. Land acquisition was done between 2007 and 2012. So, the rates of plots differed every year. The farmers are demanding a single-project single-rate, which is not applicable according to revenue rules. I have already rejected that.”

The farmers claim that the present rate of each cottah is between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 15 lakh. “Land was acquired in pieces. Had they been acquired at once, the rates would have been the same. So the tillers whose plots were acquired at the same time got similar compensation. The demands are not applicable,” added the DM.