Mechi-Mahakali railway: Distribution of compensation for land delayedLocal residents say they have transferred the ownership of their fertile land to the government, but haven’t received anything in return from officials who promised them money.
Residents of Chandrapur and Gujara Municipalities in Rautahat district have demanded that authorities provide them compensation for their plots of land acquired by the government to build the Bardibas-Nijgadh section of the Mechi-Mahakali Railway.
Although officials began the process of acquiring land for the project in Ward No. 8 of Chandrapur and Ward No. 5 of Gujara a few months ago, the Department of Railways is yet to issue payments for the acquired land.
The local residents have been frequenting the office of the Department of Railways for the compensation amount but to no avail. “Earlier, the land acquisition process was delayed because of the District Land Revenue and Survey offices,” an employee involved in the construction of the railway track said. Now, the distribution of the compensation amount has been delayed due to the Department of Railways.
Devendra Sah, an official at the Department of Railways, accepted that the land acquisition process had been delayed because of the department. “The amount, which should be distributed to the landowners, has not been released from the Ministry of the Finance yet. We will issue the payment as soon as we receive the money,” said Sah.
Farmers have been pressing the department for payment for the last nine months. According to the department, the acquisition process for 323 plots of land in Ward No. 5, 8, and in Chandrapur and Ward No. 5 in Gujara has started. Until now, farmers have received payment for 172 plots, according to the department.
The compensation determination committee had fixed Rs1.1 million per kattha (0.083 acre) of land with road access and Rs800,000 per kattha for land without access to the road. The compensation amount for plots of land with irrigation facilities had been fixed at Rs500,000 per kattha while that for land without such facilities had been fixed at Rs400,000 per kattha.
Landowners, who have not received the payment, had grown paddy, maize, mustard, and other cash crops on their fields. Ritulal Chaudhary, a farmer of Motipur in Ward No. 5 of Chandrapur, said, “I transferred the ownership of 11 katthas of land in the name of the Department of Railways two weeks ago. But, I have not received payment yet. The officials are just providing fake assurances.”
Chief District Officer Indradev Yadav said, “Now, the land acquisition process has gained momentum after the district administration office directed them to speed things up. We have also received complaints against the survey office.”
However, Sanjaya Sah, survey officer, denied the allegations. “We have not delayed in the railway’s land compensation work. The farmers will receive their compensation only after transferring ownership of the land plots. We are only responsible for mapping and survey works,” he said.
Landowners get their payment through the district administration office. Residents of Motipur complain that they have to face hassles at the revenue and survey offices time and again. “We provided our cultivable land for the construction of the railway. But, we are facing unnecessary hassles due to the government workers,” said Chaudhary.
Under the Bardibas-Nijgadh section of the Mechi-Mahakali railway, a 17.8 km railway track is to be constructed from Bagmati to Laxminiya. Under the first phase, a track is being constructed up to Lamaha. The 945-km East-West Electric Railway, also called the Mechi-Mahakali Electric Railway, is one of the government’s national pride projects.