Farmers in a bind

Proposed GAIL pipeline through Punjab will curb land rights

 
By Jyotika Sood
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015 | 02:50:09 AM

a ban on growing trees, installing borewells and digging ponds on farms is giving sleepless nights to residents of 204 villages of Punjab. The ban is in view of a 610 km gas pipeline that would pass through the farms in three districts—Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ropar. Digging work has started. The Dadri-Bawana-Nangal pipeline of the Gas Authority of India Limited (gail) is meant to supply gas to Punjab and Haryana.
   
The farmers protested outside the gail office in Raikot in Ludhiana on April 3. They later submitted a memorandum to Ludhiana district collector demanding the pipeline should be taken along the roads or canals so that farming is not disturbed.

“Farmers with small landholdings will be ruined. In some places the pipeline would pass through the middle of the farm and villagers would not be able to cultivate their own land,” complained Lakhwinder Singh Buani, secretary of Kirti Kisan Sabha that works for farmers rights. Protesters also expressed fears over pipeline leaks. “It would be like living near an active volcano that could erupt anytime,” said Mohinder Singh Seelon, an activist.

gail spokesperson Jyoti Kumar said the pipeline would not disturb cultivation. “It is true that farmers cannot construct on the earmarked land because it would hamper repair work that may have to be undertaken in future. As for safety, gail takes utmost care while installing pipelines,” said Kumar.

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