Chambal Progress Way: Farmers’ reluctance to part with land stalls road project

The Shivraj Singh government’s ambitious ‘Chambal Progress Way’ project has been stalled after farmers’ reluctance to part with their land for the highway connecting east-west corridor to the north-south corridor.

The land acquisition work for the progress way has been stalled because about 90% of farmers from Sheopur district are unwilling to give their land for the project. Similar reports have reached from Morena and Bhind districts as well.

Problem arose after the state government came up with land exchange policy. The policy was designed in view of empty state coffers. According to this policy farmers are being offered land in lieu of land acquired at some other places; whereas most of the farmers are demanding compensation under the Land Acquisition Act 2013 that amounts to four times the market value of land.

‘A team of government officials including the patwari and tehsildar came to our village. They offered me another land in lieu of mine. They didn’t tell me where that land is but I assume that either it is being cultivated by someone else or it might be barren,’ said Mangilal Suman from Sotwa village of Sheopur district.

Mangilal has 19 bighas of land but hasn’t been informed of how much land will be acquired and where will he be provided alternative land.

Same story is repeated by Ram Lakhan of Talawada village. ‘Most of the fertile lands are being tilled by one or other- be it government land or otherwise. Even if government provides its land I am sure someone would be having possession over it. This will lead to dispute,’ said Ram Lakhan. He harvests gram, wheat and paddy in his 20 bigha land.

‘We live in ravines. My ancestors have dedicated their lives to make this barren and uneven land fertile. This piece of 4 bigha land is the only source of livelihood for my family of 7 members,’ says Ramkaran Ram of Baroda village. When there is a law to provide compensation of land at four times the market rate then why should I take risk of taking land at an unknown place? I can buy land of my choice from the compensation I receive, he added.

Another farmer wishing not to be quoted said that railways too acquired land from the farmers for its broad gauge project from Gwalior to Sheopur but it is providing compensation as per the Land Acquisition Law 2013. Why the state government is hell bent- going against the law? he quipped.

What is Chambal Progress way project?

The 309-km Chambal Expressway begins from Kota in Rajasthan and passes through Sheopur, Morena and Bhind to merge onto Kanpur highway in Uttar Pradesh. This four-lane mega highway stretches about 97.30 km in Sheopur district. About 593.870 hectares of land of about 1100 farmers from 50 villages located in Sheopur and Virpur tehsils have to be acquired for the project.

The project designed by the Nath government has been revised by the Shivraj government and it is called Chambal Progress Way. Its final design has been revised to 394 kms including 85 km patch of Rajasthan.

The DPR and survey of Rs 6000 crore megaproject was done by the Madhya Pradesh Road Development Corporation (MPRDC) but its construction will be done by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) under Bharatmala project.

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Free Press Journal