Demand justified, says Gannavaram MLA Dasari Balavardhana Rao

“All farmers who have to give up land for expansion of the Gannavaram airport should be paid compensation at the same rate as the purpose is the same.”

Farmers put forth the demand at a meeting of industrialists and elected representatives organised on Saturday on the issue by the Vijayawada electronic media led by Siti Cable.

Siti Cable head Potluri Saibabu said the meeting was primarily convened for farmers to seek their opinion on the rate they were expecting and other issues.

When farmers of Buddhavaram, who would be worst-affected due the proposed expansion, said that Rs. 50 lakh an acre would be a fair price, none opposed it.

Machilipatnam MP Konakalla Narayana said the rate could be fixed only when the State government had funds at hand. “The State government had earlier said it had Rs.91 crore for payment to farmers. But the amount is yet to be paid to them. It is therefore fair to begin negotiations with farmers only after the government has money at hand,” Mr. Narayana said. He said the government had clear cut guidelines for land acquisition.

The MP also said huge disparity in the basic minimum value recorded in the registration office was another stumbling block. While the book value of land in Kesarapalli was Rs. 22 lakh an acre, the value in the adjoining village of Ajjampudi was just Rs.12 lakh. “There is just a field bund that demarcates the two villages, but there is huge disparity in the price of land,” Mr. Narayana said.

The MP suggested that an all-party delegation from Krishna district meet Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy to discuss the issue of airport expansion. He said there was an all-party committee to follow-up the issue and launch an agitation, if necessary.

Gannavaram MLA Dasari Balavardhana Rao said the rate of Rs. 50 lakh an acre was justified. The basic minimum value of land in Kesarapalli was Rs. 22 lakh. But, keeping in the mind the way land prices had shot up, the government should pay double the amount.

Andhra Chamber of Commerce general secretary Muthavarapu Muralikrishna said there was a misconception that farmers were the main impediment to the expansion of the airport. It was proved beyond doubt that farmers were not coming in the way of development.

Andhra Chamber of Commerce office-bearer and hotelier M. Rajayya said unless Vijayawada was linked by air to other IT hubs in the country, thousands of engineering graduates from the district would have to go elsewhere to eke out a living.

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