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Land agitation threat after plan change

Tamluk, Sept. 9: Around 70 Haldia farmers from whom land had been acquired in 2005 for the construction of a bus terminus-cum-commercial complex today threatened to launch an agitation as the administration had 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.

Then transport minister Subhas Chakraborty had laid the foundation stone of the project in February 2008.

The farmers said 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. We demand our land back if implementing the original plan is not possible,” said Prankrishna Bera, who had been given Rs 60,000 for his 0.12 acres.

“We will pay back the money we had taken eight years ago with interest,” added Prankrishna, who led the delegation.

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.

Prankrishna said that after the land losers came to know about the new plan to divide the land into plots and give them out on lease for residential and commercial purposes.

The land losers also submitted a letter mentioning the demands to the HDA office.

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. “I will have to check the records. I will also look into the grievances of the landlosers.”