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Land price cry hits NTPC

Sept. 1: A section of farmers whose land has been identified for the 1,320MW NTPC power plant in Katwa has demanded Rs 25 lakh an acre, Rs 8 lakh more than what has been fixed after meetings with villagers over months.

The central utility, which agreed to go for direct acquisition of land following a three-year delay because of the government’s hands-off policy, possesses 556 acres acquired during the Left regime.

The Rs 9,000-crore plant needs another 227 acres, of which 97 acres were promised by Mamata Banerjee before the Lok Sabha elections. NTPC has fixed Rs 17 lakh an acre for the remaining 130 acres.

Today, the 50-odd farmers, owning one to three acres on an average, submitted a memorandum to NTPC and the Burdwan administration demanding Rs 25 lakh an acre and a job for each land-loser family.

The farmers threatened agitation if their demands were not met.

“This is a Rs 10,000-crore project that will transform the economy of the region. They should pay us according to our demands,” said 40-year-old farmer Bimal De, who owns an acre at Churpuni.

NTPC officials in Katwa have forwarded the farmers’ demands to the company headquarters in Delhi. “This is subject to the board’s approval,” an NTPC official said.

He added: “This was not expected. The price was fixed after discussions with all stakeholders, including the landowners.”

According to a land broker in Katwa, the current rate of plots was around Rs 15 lakh an acre.