Local farmers in Betauna demand re-evaluation of compensation for Bardibas-Simara railway trackLandowners claim the compensation amount is lesser than the current value of the land.
Residents of Betauna in Chandrapur Municipality, Rautahat, are demanding authorities to re-evaluate the compensation amount fixed by the Compensation Fixation Committee of the East-West Electric Railway. The survey work of the railway project has been halted for the past two weeks due to the protest.
“We have urged concerned authorities, various political parties, and their leaders to address our demand. We won’t let the railway project resume its work unless the authorities re-evaluate the compensation amount for the land acquired for the construction,” said Pradip Basnet, the vice-chairman of a struggle committee formed by locals to press their demands.
Stating that the compensation amount fixed by the Compensation Fixation Committee is far less than the current value of land, the agitating locals had submitted memorandums to the Ministry of Home Affairs through the District Administration Office, Department of Railways, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, District Land Revenue Office, Survey Office and Chandrapur Municipality to address their demand.
The committee has fixed the compensation amount ranging from Rs 300,000 to Rs 1.6 million per kattha of land.
But the landowners claim the current land price in the area is at least Rs 1 million per kattha.
The protesting locals had stopped the railway project’s employees from conducting a survey in Betauna two weeks ago, claiming that the authorities concerned paid no heed to their demands.
The residents barred the project employees from using their vehicles; padlocked the office of Chandrapur Municipality, and disrupted transportation in Chandrapur a few days ago.
“Local farmers have been compelled to protest to receive suitable compensation. The government should immediately re-evaluate the compensation through a Cabinet meeting. The farmers should be saved from this injustice,” said Nepali Congress lawmaker Dev Prasad Timalsina.
Local leaders of major parties have also expressed their solidarity with the agitating farmers. “Discussions are being held with authorities regarding the re-evaluation of the compensation amount. We have urged the authorities to take a decision in favour of the farmers,” said Yubaraj Bhattarai, the district in-charge of Nepal Communist Party. Bhattarai, on behalf of the agitating farmers, had submitted a memorandum to Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa a few weeks ago.
The Mechi-Mahakali Electric Railway is one of the projects under the government’s National Pride Project. The 945 km railway line is proposed to pan Mechi in the east to Mahakali in the west. Currently, the survey and submission of a detailed project report for the 108-km Bardibas-Simara section of the railway line are underway.