The meeting convened by the Bijapur district administration and the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) officials to convince farmers of the need for acquiring land for the proposed 4,000-MW thermal power plant at Kudagi village of Basavan Bagewadi taluk here on Thursday faced another setback.

As soon as the meeting began, farmers opposed the decision of the district administration to fix compensation of Rs. 2.75 lakh per acre of non-irrigated land and Rs. 3 lakh per acre of irrigated land for the project. They said that the compensation amount was too low compared to land acquired by the Government for different projects elsewhere.

They said that the amount came to less than 50 per cent of compensation fixed for farmers who would lose land for the greenfield airport at Burnapur village in the district. The authorities had fixed Rs. 8 lakh per acre of land in that village, they said.

The farmers said that the land identified for the project was suitable for cultivating horticulture crops of export quality. However, owing to shortage of water, they had not taken up cultivation there. The land would fetch them more profits if proper irrigation facility was provided. Keeping this in view, the authorities should fix suitable compensation for the land, they added.

The farmers did not agree with the proposal made by NTPC officials that all unskilled jobs in the plant would be given to them and that the candidates for skilled jobs would be selected based on qualification and eligibility of farmers who gave land for the project.

They said that Rs. 30 crore would be invested in developing infrastructure around the village, including roads and underground drainage. There was a plan to establish an Industrial Training Institute (ITI) College to train eligible candidates for skilled jobs.

However, the farmers demanded that a member of every family that lost land for the project should be given a job in the plant and a pension of Rs. 5,000 a month should be given to the aged farmers.

After a detailed discussion of more than two hours, Deputy Commissioner S.S. Pattanshetty proposed to fix compensation for non-irrigated land at Rs. 3.75 lakh per acre and Rs. 4.25 lakh for irrigated land apart from other benefits promised by NTPC.

But the farmers refused to agree and left the meeting hall stating that the amount was too low.

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