Administration requests CPM to break impasse on Andal airport land issue

Andal airport

After talks with villagers whose land has been identified for acquisition to shift power transmission towers standing in the way of the completion of the airport and the allied airport city project in Andal failed, the Burdwan administration yesterday requested the CPM leaders to convince farmers to part with their land.

Transmission towers at Andal airport that are to be shifted

After local Trinamool leaders refused to get involved in taking initiative to convince the farmers to acquire the necessary 70 acres of land required for shifting of six power transmission towers, the Burdwan district administration have requested local CPM MLA and other local CPM leaders to take steps so that the deadlock can be broken.

Pandaveswar MLA Gouranga Chatterjee, under whose area the 70 acres identified for acquisition fall, and other local CPM leaders, however, did not attend a meeting the Durgapur sub-divisional officer (SDO) called today with project promoter Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Ltd (BAPL) and district officials to know the pulse of the farmers. No farmer representative attended the meeting either.

Chatterjee, whose party’s support in Burdwan has waned, said he felt “ignored and insulted” at not being invited to the naming ceremony of the airport on September 19. Andal airport near Durgapur has been the brainchild of erstwhile CPM leaders who went ahead with the airport project in spite of steep opposition from Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee at that time.

“I was surprised that I was not invited even though I am the local MLA. Our party had conceived and promoted the project in 2007. I felt ignored and insulted. A district official called me up last evening and sought help in convincing the villagers to give up their land. The official requested me to attend today’s meeting,” Chatterjee said.
“I told the official that the administration thought of us only when it faced trouble. We do not want to get involved in the matter now,” the MLA added.

At the naming ceremony, Singapore’s Changi Airports International, which has a stake in BAPL, had requested chief minister Mamata Banerjee to ensure that the six towers were shifted and the land issue was resolved. Mamata Banerjee during her days as the opposition leader was against setting up the aerotropolis at Andal near Durgapur citing land acquisition would throw farmers out of livelihood.

Flights can’t take off or land until the towers of the DVC and the state-owned WBSETCL, and power lines near the runway are shifted.
Farmers, however, have refused to part with their land. They had detained BAPL officials on land survey duty and walked out of a meeting the administration had called last week to break the deadlock.
The district administration had earlier requested local rural body chiefs, all of whom are members of Trinamool, to convince the farmers to part with their land so that the Rs 10,000-crore project can take off by April next year according to the wishes of the chief minister.

Durgapur SDO Kasturi Sengupta, who had last month held the meeting where the co-operation of the Trinamool rural chiefs was sought, today said the administration would ask for the “help and co-operation of everybody associated with the villagers to solve the land issue”.
“It is not that we have approached only the CPM,” Sengupta added.
At the meeting held in her office yesterday, the local block development officer, rural body chiefs and BAPL officials were present.

The gram panchayat chief of Ichhapur, Trinamool’s Ujjal Mandal, who was present at the meeting, said: “I told the district administration that the farmers do not want to give their land.”

The agitated villagers walked out of the meeting on 26th October, shouting slogans against BAPL and the administration. They even threatened of beating BAPL officials and cut off their legs if they try to lay foot on their land. Ujjwal Mondal, the Trinamool chief, then urged BDO Sharma to call off the meeting.

BAPL officials however refused to comment over the issue.

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