Fresh land acquisition – major hurdle for upcoming Andal airport near Durgapur

Impasse over fresh land acquisition for shifting of the High Tension power transmission cables at the upcoming airport at Andal near Durgapur continues. Senior district administration officials accompanied by senior police officers went to the Air Traffic Control building of the proposed airport in Andal yesterday afternoon to help sort out the ongoing land acquisition dispute.

Project promoter Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Ltd (BAPL) requires around 70 acres in Andal and Laudoha to shift the High Tension power transmission cables of DVC and WBSETCL passing through 2800 metres runway of the Andal airport. The high tension lines across the runway have put the necessary approval from Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on hold.

Residents of seven villages situated around the project site are now apparently reluctant to sacrifice further land for the project. The state already had acquired 2,300 acres land for the controversial project, which now requires further land for shifting the CPSU power company’s towers. In all, 17 towers would be shifted and each tower would require 1.5 cottah of land stretched across seven villages – Patsaora, Ichhapur, Andal, Arati, Bansgora, Amlouka, Amrai.

“The project already has taken up our land six years ago in front of our eyes; we can see they are selling those to different companies at a twenty-time price hike. They have cheated us and now they are asking for further land,” locals alleged.

Here it must be noted that BAPL is currently selling land inside the proposed Andal Aerotropolis at hefty prices of 4 to 5 lakhs per kottah (720 sq. ft) to individual buyers.

Stubborn resilience by the villagers not to part away with their land further has put serious doubts on this flagship aviation-turned-realty project.

On last 1 October, the SDM, Durgapur, had arranged a meeting with the respective panchayats and police to help procurement of land for the purpose of shifting the HT lines, but it failed to yield any definite result as the villagers on 29 November 2013 had not allowed survey officials to assume basic work.

Villagers were annoyed when the project promoter allegedly had tried to fabricate the theft of an unlicensed gun from the project area, which the locals believe, was purposely planted to mount pressure on the reluctant villagers and they believe that a section of Trinamool Congress leadership allegedly had hatched the conspiracy.

The DM, Burdwan, Mr Soumitra Mohan, after a meeting said: “We held a primary discussion with the land owners and have assured them to consider their grievances.”

However the 100 odd farmers whose plots have been earmarked for acquisition to shift electricity towers from near the runway are united and are not willing to part away with their land under any circumstances.

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