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Land protest threat after project change

Sept. 9: Seventy Haldia farmers from whom land was acquired in 2005 for the construction of a bus terminus-cum-commercial complex today threatened to launch an agitation as the administration has scrapped the project and decided to sell the land for residential and commercial purposes.

A delegation of farmers from Pitambarchak, on the outskirts of Haldia town, today met the additional district magistrate (land acquisition), Shristidhar Santra, and submitted a memorandum to him.

The landlosers have demanded that the Haldia Development Authority (HDA) implement the original plan and construct the central bus terminus-cum-commercial complex on the 20 acres acquired in Pitambarchak.

The farmers said that when the land was acquired from them, the HDA had promised each landloser a stall in the commercial complex.

“If the HDA does not build the bus terminus and the commercial complex, we will not allow any other construction on the land unless we are offered a revised compensation package at the current market rate,” said Prankrishna Bera, who had been given Rs 60,000 for his 0.12 acres.

The HDA had paid Rs 4.9 lakh an acre at the time of acquisition. In the past eight years, the price has shot up to Rs 50 lakh an acre because of the construction of a metalled road that the administration plans to extend up to NH41, which connects Haldia to Kolaghat, landlosers and administrative officials said.

As the HDA is yet to begin construction, the farmers have continued cultivating it.

The HDA notification announcing the residential and commercial project appeared in a daily on July 30.

The chief executive officer of the HDA, P. Ulganathan, said he did not know if the land had originally been acquired for a terminus.