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Compensation row hits Harihar-Kottur rail line

Anil Kumar Sastry
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Disgruntled farmers are obstructing work: officials

All that’s keeping the new 67-km rail line between Harihar in Davangere district and Kottur in Bellary district from being operational is the completion of minor works on a 20-km stretch in Davangere district.

The foundation stone for this new line was laid by the then Railway Minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief in 1995 and the estimated cost was Rs. 65 crore. The line, besides seeking to provide connectivity to the hinterland, was also expected to connect the east coast (Visakhapatnam) and the west coast (Mangalore).

Sources in the South Western Railway (SWR) told The Hindu that track-laying work on the stretch was completed in January 2011. Even ballasting the track was almost complete. However, the SWR has hit a roadblock on the 20-km stretch.

Farmers, whose lands were acquired between 2001 and 2005 for which compensation was paid, are now demanding more compensation and obstructing work, sources said. The opposition is more pronounced in the villages of Kurubarahalli, Ganganarsi, Hottaganahalli and Telagi, sources said.

“We had told the farmers that the Railways cannot enhance the compensation once it is determined and paid, and asked them to approach the courts. About 340 cases were filed and decisions enhancing the compensation came in about 240 cases. The Railways has complied with the court direction,” sources said. However, farmers in the four villages have neither gone to court nor are they allowing work to continue, sources said. Farmers are said to have pelted stones at railway officials on duty. “Our men and machinery are lying idle at the worksite. Besides delaying commissioning of the project and commercial run of train services, this attitude is costing the Railways,” sources said. The Kottur-Hospet line, which was converted into broad gauge, is already operational.

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