Locals protest against delayed compensationBhairahawa locals whose land was acquired by the Gautam Buddha International Airport project have halted construction work to protest delays in payment of compensation.
Bhairahawa locals whose land was acquired by the Gautam Buddha International Airport project have halted construction work to protest delays in payment of compensation.
On Monday, agitating landowners padlocked the main entrance to the airport construction site demanding that authorities make early payment of the compensation amount as agreed earlier.
The entrance is used to take construction materials to the site. The farmers who lost their land complained that they were facing hassles to get their rightful compensation.
The project-affected farmers charged the project management of not working to facilitate payment of the compensation amount. They also accused employees at government offices such as the survey department, land revenue office and forest department of delaying issuing the paperwork required to obtain their money.
Landowners complained that government officials had been demanding money in exchange for faster service. Recently, middlemen have also started surfacing offering to get the paperwork done promptly for a 2-3 percent commission, they said.
“We had asked authorities to ease the compensation process, but they didn’t listen to us. The farmers made the rounds of various government offices for months to collect their rightful compensation, but still nothing happened,” said Suraj Prasad Barai, one of the farmers based in Siddharthanagar Municipality-10 whose land was taken over by the airport project.
The farmers said that after their land was acquired, they could not grow anything on it or get compensation. This has put an economic burden on our lives, they said. The farmers had staged a protest with the same demand about one and a half months ago.
Project Chief Om Sharma said that lack of adequate manpower at the land survey office was causing delays in marking land plots for providing compensation. Because of this, farmers are forced to wait for days to get their money, he said.
Sharma added that they had written to the Department of Land Survey to assign five surveyors to work solely on the airport construction site so that farmers could receive their compensation on time.
The airport in Bhairahawa, the gateway to the pilgrimage destination of Lumbini in south central Nepal, is being upgraded to a fully equipped international airport. The airport now covers an area of 787 bighas after an additional 500 bighas was acquired some two years ago.
More than 2,000 people were displaced due to land acquisition for the airport upgradation project. The project has set aside Rs23 billion to be distributed as compensation to farmers. Of this, only Rs3.5 billion for 70 bighas has been distributed so far. The project is expected to be complete by early 2019.