Chhattisgarh's plan for a new capital puts farmers in a fix

By Alok Prakash Putul
Published: Thursday 15 February 2007

the Chhattisgarh government's plan to develop Naya Raipur as the new capital has generated a lot of controversy. A five-year old ban by the government on the sale and purchase of land in 27 villages in and around the chosen area has the farmers protesting the fiat.

At least six sites have been selected; with each new government the sites too keep changing. The earlier Congress government selected land at Cheria and Pounta villages in Raipur district in 2003 for the city but the next Bharatiya Janata Party-led government selected a site just 4 km away in village Rakhi, claiming the new plot was closer to Mana airport. The agency looking after the project was also renamed Naya Raipur Development Authority.

Villagers were finding it difficult to bear the sudden huge expenses like marriage and were under pressure from real estate dealers to sell their land.They would get a better deal (around Rs 10 crore to Rs 12 crore) if they sell their lands to a private party rather than take compensation from the government.

Villagers complain of inadequate compensation. "The government is now procrastinating on matters of compensation as well," said Mehettarlal of Rakhi village. Laxman, a farmer from Kotni village, complains that after many meetings Rs 6 lakh per acre was fixed as compensation but the government was short on funds with little help from the centre. Some villagers have refused monetary compensation and demand another piece of land.

To attract the government's attention, villagers have written slogans on walls inviting naxalites to help them in their protests against the government.

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