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CMC deal for Dhapa farmers

The civic body has finalised a deal for Dhapa farmers to vacate about 37 acres, which will be converted into a garbage dumping ground as the existing waste disposal site is fast reaching its capacity.

This is the first time since Trinamul came to power in Bengal that a body run by it will take possession of land from farmers. The takeover can’t be called acquisition though, as the land is owned by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).

“Since the farmers have been cultivating the land for years, removing them is a sensitive issue. The civic body didn’t hurry and negotiated with the farmers for over a year to reach a consensus,” said a source in the civic body.

“The last session of the civic house vetted the solatium amount decided by the mayoral council. We will soon start distributing the amount to the farmers. The land will be available for dumping waste by March,” said mayoral council member (solid waste management) Debabrata Majumdar.

The CMC has to pay Rs 9.39 crore as solatium to the farmers. The amount for a bigha of cultivable land is Rs 9.10 lakh and for a water body, Rs 7 lakh.

There are several small water bodies adjoining the farmland in Dhapa. Of the 37 acres, cultivable plots are spread across 73 bighas and 10 cottahs and water bodies, 38 bighas and 13 cottahs.

“We could not have waited any longer. The existing 35-hectare dumping ground at Dhapa can take the city’s waste for at best another couple of years. We urgently need the 37 acres, which are adjacent to the existing dumping ground,” said a civic official.

The CMC disposes of around 2,500 metric tonne of solid waste every day.

The official said dumping of waste has made the existing Dhapa facility about 100ft higher than the surrounding areas. Waste-laden trucks are finding it difficult to climb atop the waste mounds. “If we do not expand the dumping ground, we would have to construct roads for the trucks on the existing one, and that would have been far more difficult,” said the official.

Waste, he said, will not be dumped in the water bodies. “We will take possession of the water bodies to avoid complications in erecting a wall around the dumping ground. Also, a water body confers several ecological advantages on the site,” the official added.

The 37-acre site, however, can accommodate the city’s waste for seven years. A senior CMC official said the solid waste management department had given a requirement of 130 acres but the civic body could arrive at a deal with only a few farmers.

“This is a temporary solution. We have to look for a bigger plot or convince more farmers in Dhapa to move out,” said the official.