Farmers entrenched on state-owned land earmarked for the New Garia-Airport Metro project have asked for Rs 60,000 a cottah to relocate, Rs 20,000 more than what the railways is willing to pay.
Deadlock notwithstanding, officials say the continuation of talks to reclaim land along the EM Bypass bodes well for a project stalled at two locations.
A meeting involving representatives of the farmers, railways and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation was held on Thursday to arrive at a suitable solatium for the 77 claimants.
The land where these farmers have been growing vegetables for years is owned by the CMC. The money they stand to earn will be the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd’s liability.
“In principle, the farmers have agreed to vacate the stretch. So there isn’t any doubt that the project will progress. We have asked RVNL officials to let us know their decision on the payment issue as soon as possible,” said mayoral council member Swapan Samaddar, who represented CMC at the meeting.
Work on the Rs 3,951-crore Metro route started in January 2012 but its progress has been slow because of land and other problems. Barely 15 per cent of the project has been completed in almost two years.
The Rail Vikas Nigam requires 22 bighas in two portions, one opposite Silver Spring and the other near Beleghata. Two stations are to be built there along with piers for the overhead tracks.
Thursday’s meeting was the fourth over the past 45 days to end the impasse.
While the two sides differed on the quantum of solatium, a senior railway official said there seemed to be some urgency in finding a solution for the first time in four meetings. “Things have started moving since the state government started taking an interest in removing the hurdles,” he added.
Sources said the CMC had kept the Rail Vikas Nigam waiting since December 2012 for a no-objection certificate to start work on that stretch. The civic body took the initiative to start talks with the farmers using its land only in the second half of this year after a prod from the state government, they said.
The farmers had first demanded Rs 75,000 a cottah, which the railways immediately shot down. They scaled down the amount to Rs 60,000 a cottah during negotiations but the railways isn’t looking beyond Rs 40,000 as of now.
“The rail officials didn’t commit anything on Thursday. They said they would talk to their seniors about the demand made by the farmers,” said Debabrata Majumder, mayoral council member for solid waste management.
Apart from the Bypass land tangle, a water body near New Garia station where the Rail Vikas Nigam needs to raise three to four piers for the overhead tracks has yet to be handed over by the government.
East-West Metro, the other rapid transit project mired in land disputes and litigation, jumped a big hurdle earlier this week.
Work started on the first stretch of rail tracks in Salt Lake on Monday, coinciding with news of the government releasing the list of 58 families who would vacate the project site in Duttabad where encroachment has prevented work for four years.
• Required: 22 bighas
• Where: Off the Bypass
• Owner: CMC
• Used by: Farmers
Rs 60,000 a cottah
• RVNL’s offer: Rs 40,000 a cottah