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Farmers halt work at Gautam Buddha Airport project over compensation row

- Madhav Dhungana, BHAIRAHAWA

Dec 18, 2017-

Farmers and locals of Bhairahawa have halted the construction work of Gautam Buddha International Airport from Monday in protest over delay in payment of compensation for the land acquired to construct the project.

The agitating landowners have padlocked the main entrance of the airport construction project demanding the authority make an easy arrangement for early payment of the compensation as agreed earlier. The entrance is used to supply the necessary construction materials. The affected farmers complained that they had been facing hassles in getting their rightful compensation.

The project-affected farmers have charged that the project management has turned a blind eye to facilitate the payment of compensation. They further accused the employees at government offices such as survey department, land revenue office and forest department of dilly-dallying while furnishing relevant papers necessary to receive the compensation money.

In addition, the land-owners complained that they have been left in lurch as some government officials seek extra money for prompt service and recently middlemen have started surfacing demanding 2-3 percent commission for quick service.

 “We demanded the authority ease the compensation process but it fell on deaf ear. Ultimately, the farmers had to knock on the doors of various government offices for months to claim their rightful compensation, but still it didn’t bear fruit,” said Suraj Prasad Barai, one of farmers  based in Siddharthanagar Municipality-10 whose land had been acquired for the project construction.

The striking farmers said that, after the land acquisition, they neither can use it for cultivation nor get the compensation in time. This catch-22 situation has invited economic burden on our lives, the farmers said.

Earlier about a month and half ago, the farmers had staged a protest with the same demand.

The airport in Bhairahawa, the gateway to pilgrimage destination of Lumbini in south central Nepal, is being upgraded to Gautam Buddha International Airport.

Farmers stage protest in the premise of Gautam Buddha International Airport on Monday.

The airport covers an area of 787 Bighas after an additional 500 Bighas was acquired some two years ago to upgrade the airport to an international level fully equipped with physical infrastructures. Over 2,000 people were displaced while acquiring the land for upgrading the airport. The project has appropriated Rs 23 billion as compensation to farmers.  Of this, only Rs 3.5 billion has been distributed in compensation for 70 Bighas of the land till now.

The airport project Chief Om Sharma said that lack of adequate manpower in land survey office is causing a delay in singling out the lands for providing compensation. Because of this the farmers are forced to wait for days to get their compensation, he said.

Sharma said that they have written to Department of Land Survey to depute a team of 5 surveyors to solely work in the airport construction site so that farmers can be paid their compensation in time.

The project is expected to complete by early 2019.

 

 

Published: 18-12-2017 17:58

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