Research farm land turns useless after Sonia rally

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  • Published 23.06.09

Raiganj, June 23: An agriculture department’s research farm in Islampur has stopped working as the land has been rendered “virtually unusable” after an election rally, attended by Sonia Gandhi, was held there about two months ago.

The development officer in-charge of the Adoptive Research Farm, Suvendu Mondol, has sent a letter listing the harm done to the facility to the principal agricultural officer of North Dinajpur and the district administration.

The farm with a research centre is located on 70 acres of land along NH31.

“We have several plots with low boundary walls where we grow crops by new methods to experiment with different cropping techniques that can be adopted by farmers of the state,” Mondol said.

In addition, experiments to develop hybrid seeds are also conducted in the farm.

“On April 24, a number of policemen and local Congress leaders started measuring the land. When we objected to it, we were shown a written permission that the district administration had given them for holding Sonia Gandhi’s rally on April 27,” the officer said.

Soon, the standing crops were flattened with the help of tractors following instructions from the Special Protection Group, he said. The land from the highway to the gate of the research centre was also levelled.

“On the day of the meeting, about 80,000 people gathered at the farm and stayed there for over four hours. The entire area was dug up to create barriers and the crowd left behind a huge quantity of litter, rendering the farm land virtually unusable,” Mondol said.

He said at that time there was an experiment going on to grow hybrid maize on three acres of land. But the plot was levelled for security reasons. The temperature and rainfall measuring instruments that stood on the plot were also damaged.

“As things stand now, the work at the research station has virtually stopped because of the damage. The preliminary estimate of loss is about Rs 15 lakh,” Mondol said. However, even after writing to the district authorities, there has been no response.

The principal agricultural officer of North Dinajpur, Balaichand Chakrabarty, said permission to hold rallies on the farm should not be granted. “I have received the report on the damage. What can I do if the district magistrate allows the rally to go ahead? I have requested him for compensation,” he added.

District magistrate Ramanuj Chakrabarty said he could do little ahead of the elections. “I am looking into the matter,” he added.