Panagarh road plan to ease NH traffic hits land hurdle

Durgapur, Nov. 29: Villagers in Panagarh today prevented land department officials from conducting a survey for a parallel road to ease traffic on NH2 demanding the district administration first discuss the price.

The 100-odd villagers said that though they had heard about a parallel road, the district administration had not approached them directly about any proposal for land acquisition.

"We have learnt that the government will take our land for a bypass road along the NH2 through advertisements in newspapers. But the administration is yet to talk to us. We don't know what compensation we will be paid. So we did not allow the land department officials to carry out the survey today. The government must talk to us directly and fix up the price first," said Shyamal Mandal of Pondali, one of the seven mouzas where land has been identified.

The NH2 stretch in Panagarh is a single-lane road that often sees traffic snarls, sometimes for several hours. A bypass road to ease traffic has been in the pipeline for a couple of years now.

The government has identified 25.36 acres of single-crop land for the 12-km long bypass road that will avoid the bottleneck town market.

The National Highways Authority of India had decided to construct a bypass road a couple of years ago and had sent a requisition for land to the state government. The bypass road is part of the Rs 1,250 crore Dhanbad�Burdwan six-lane project of the NHAI.

The government started the acquisition process under the NH act one-and-half-years ago and will be sending individual notices from next month.

"We have already identified land according to the demand of the NHAI and also fixed up prices for the plots, which will be highest in the state. Most of the formalities for land acquisition have already been completed and we will serve individual notices to the villagers form next month. I don't know why the villagers said we had not approached them because we have already held several meetings with local representatives and have given advertisements in newspapers. The price was fixed up after a market survey," said Utpal Biswas, additional district magistrate (land acquisition).

Sources said the district administration has initially fixed up a price ranging between Rs 13 lakh an acre and Rs 1.04 crore an acre depending on the proximity from the road and nature of the plot. The price for the houses and trees on the land will be paid separately, they added.

"This is the most lucrative package where the land losers will get the highest compensation. We are expecting to hand over the land to the NHAI by February," said Biswas.

He appeared hopeful that the administration will soon be able to convince the villagers to hand over their plots.

The chief general manager (technical) of the NHAI in eastern region, Ajay Ahelwalia, said they were expecting to get land soon and have already started floating tenders.

"Land acquisition is a lengthy process and I hope we will get it soon," he said.

District magistrate .S. Meena said that if the villagers had any grievances they can discuss it during the individual hearings. "We will not allow any forcible acquisition," he said.