The delay in acquiring land for the doubling of Bangalore-Mysore railway line, particularly in Mandya district, is not only pushing up the project cost — the State Government is contributing two-thirds of the cost while the Railways is sharing one-third of it — but is also coming in the way of completing the doubling work expeditiously.
Initially estimated at Rs. 300 crore, the project is likely to cost more than Rs. 600 crore now. If the cost of land, which has increased by over 15 times since the project was announced, is considered, the project cost may cross Rs. 700 crore, sources in the South Western Railway told The Hindu .
While line doubling has been completed up to Shettihalli (Channapatna taluk, Ramanagaram district) from Bangalore and up to Naganahalli from Mysore, work is under progress on the stretch between Shettihalli, off Nidaghatta in Maddur taluk, and Naganahalli, off Lakshmipura in Mandya district.
Of the 150 acres of land required between Ramanagaram and Mysore, 89 acres have been acquired and handed over to the construction wing of South Western Railway.
Even though the Revenue Department had fixed the compensation at rates ranging between Rs. 20 lakh and Rs. 32 lakh an acre and was ready to pay it to farmers in 2009, many refused to receive it demanding higher compensation. The land owners, claiming appreciation of land value and loss of income, are demanding at least Rs. 80 lakh an acre.
Since the railway line passes almost parallel to the Bangalore-Mysore State Highway where the land prices have shot up ever since it was made four-lane, farmers perceive their land commands higher value, said one of the farmers in Maddur. Even otherwise, he could earn more income over the years by cultivating paddy and sugarcane, he said.
Sources in the government said that frequent change in Deputy Commissioners in the politically-sensitive district too had contributed to delay in land acquisition. Mandya Deputy Commissioner P.C. Jaffer said that he has been holding regular meetings with farmers and other officials concerned. He said that in Mandya district, 79 acres of land have been acquired. Mr. Jaffer said that he would urge the government to fix at least Rs. 48 lakh per acre as compensation.
He also said that the district administration had allowed the South Western Railway to take up construction work pending final settlement soon after the land is notified for acquisition. The State Government is trying to ensure speedy completion of the project, Mr. Jaffer said.