The increase in cost has meant HPCL will spend nearly Rs. 75 crore on acquisitions for the project
After months of protest and opposition, the Rs. 750-crore LPG pipeline from Mangalore to Bangalore looks set to cross its biggest obstacle with land acquisition under way in the district.
Officials of the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB), which is undertaking the acquisitions, seem confident that the process of acquiring land for the laying of pipes and constructing pumping stations will be completed in four months.
With this, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (HPCL) — which is executing the project — says the 397-km LPG pipeline can be completed by March 2016, as against the original deadline of November 2015.
Though the pipeline project passes through seven districts across south Karnataka, HPCL officials said only land acquisition in Dakshina Kannada remained a problem. While acquisition is still in progress here, HPCL has already completed nearly 32 per cent of the construction work in other districts. “Pumping stations are being constructed, and 60km of pipeline will be laid soon in Mysore and Hassan districts,” said an HPCL source.Issues in DK
Out of 152.85 acres of land to be acquired in Dakshina Kannada, nearly 61 acres are permanent land acquisitions for pumping stations. The rest are to be “temporarily acquired”, returning land to users after laying of the pipeline under the Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Act, 1962. However, the compensation of just 10 per cent of the guidance value under the Act led to early opposition, said KIADB officials.
It was only after a yearlong negotiation that compensation of six times the prescribed amount (for ‘urbanised’ Mangalore taluk) and five times (for ‘rural’ Belthangady) was fixed. The KIADB has said more than 200 of the 900 landholders have agreed to the terms. “More than 85 per cent of landholders in Belthangady have agreed. When we carry this exercise to Bantwal and Mangalore taluk, more people will handover their lands,” said an official, adding that alternative sites for the 7.12-acre pump house at Neriya village in Belthangady is being sought to ease the permanent land acquisition there.
The increase in cost has meant HPCL will spend nearly Rs. 75 crore on acquisitions for this project. “Usually, just 4 per cent of the pipeline project cost goes in acquisitions. But because of the increased payments in Dakshina Kannada, the cost has escalated to 10 per cent,” said the HPCL official.
However, Krishna Prasad Rai, convener, HPCL Pipeline Project Opposition Committee, said the committee will continue their “long-term” political and legal struggle to ensure amendments to the PMP Act. “The Act is unfair to farmers, as after the pipeline is laid, the land is useless. We can neither build structures on it, nor can we cultivate areca or rubber plantations on it. Moreover, there is little evidence of safety of farmers who live by the pipeline,” he said.