‘If people do not wish to part with land, we will change alignment of the roads’

Admitting that widening of National Highway (NH) 34 was faced with problems related to land acquisition, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in the Assembly on Friday that her government would not forcibly acquire land or evict people for constructing roads.

Responding to a query by Leader of the Opposition Surya Kanta Mishra, Ms. Banerjee told the House that of the 2,380.36 acres required for widening the highway, only 465.46 acres had been acquired so far. The highway connects north and south Bengal.

“I cannot use bulldozers to remove people,” Ms. Banerjee said, adding that her government would only hold consultations with the people on acquiring land for such infrastructure projects.

Ms. Banerjee reiterated her government’s stand that land would not be acquired forcibly for setting up industries. “We will not do anything that will hamper the interests of the people….We cannot resort to firing on people just to get something done.”

Ms. Banerjee suggested that if people were not willing to part with their land, the alignment of the roads would be changed accordingly. “May be the cost will rise. So be it.”

“I do not like the Centre’s Land Acquisition Act,” she said even as she underlined the need for such legislation to focus on rehabilitation of land-losers. The National Highways Authority of India was not laying down highways even where there was no problem with land acquisition, Ms. Banerjee said, adding: “I will ask them not to indulge in politics over this.”

On the proposed power plant by the National Thermal Power Corporation of India at Katwa in Bardhaman district — a project facing land acquisition issues — Ms. Banerjee said 500 acres had already been acquired for the project and it was for the Corporation to consult the people for additional land.

  • Widening of NH 34 held up as only 19% required land has been acquired

  • Land Acquisition Act should focus on rehabilitation of land-losers: Mamata