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Rahul meets NHAI, Amethi farmers on land acquisition problems

Lucknow: Farmers in Uttar Pradesh are facing problems due to land acquisition in several national highway projects in the state, including in Amethi, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said here today.

Gandhi met farmers from Amethi whose land had been acquired for widening a national highway and assured them of all possible help in resolving their problems.

Besides the delegation of 90 farmers from his parliamentary constituency, Gandhi also met officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and submitted a memorandum.

“Issues related to land acquisition are being faced by farmers in six national highway projects in UP. In Amethi, too, procedures are not followed in issues related to acquiring land,” Gandhi told reporters.

Work on widening NH 56 at Kathora Gram Sabha in Amethi’s Jagdishpur block started a year ago. Three days ago, locals allege, NHAI began demolishing houses and shops in the area without compensating the affected farmers.

According to local Congress leaders, the farmers had already given land for widening the highway. However, NHAI was also constructing a bylane for parking trucks on both sides of the road in an area of around 200 m in Kathora, affecting about 100 families.

Gandhi, it is learnt, asked NHAI officials to adopt proper procedures to compensate those affected or shift the bylane.

Later, talking to reporters at the airport, Gandhi said due process had not been followed.

Referring to the farmers’ agitation in the twin towns of Bhatta Parsaul in western Uttar Pradesh, he said, “I have been fighting for the cause of farmers’ land since Bhatta Parsaul issue (in 2011).

“The previous UPA government had formed a law related to acquiring land and that was for protecting farmers’ land…

all the work (land acquisition) is done on its basis. I think NHAI will tackle the matter sensitively.”

NHAI General Manager Rajiv Agarwal told PTI that compensation for land was not fixed by the Authority but decided by the government.

“I will get a technical probe done in the matter. In the next two-three days, the NHAI team and I will also visit there (Amethi) and prepare its report,” Agarwal said.

Ayub, one of those who had come from Amethi to meet Gandhi, alleged that their land was being acquired and old houses demolished.

The farmers said Gandhi had assured them of all possible help and said he would visit Amethi soon.

“Majority of the affected are there since 1994 and have constructed shops etc on the lease given by UP Industrial Development Corporation. We want the process (of acquiring land) to stop immediately and compensation should be given to the affected people whose shops and houses were razed,” stated the memorandum from the farmers handed over to the NHAI by Gandhi.

—PTI