Land losers of NH 169 widening project demand immediate payment of compensation

Holding demonstration in front of NHAI Mangaluru project office, they decry Authority’s delaying attitude

March 07, 2023 07:25 pm | Updated 09:27 pm IST - MANGALURU

Mariamma K. Thomas, president of Bhoo Malikara Horata Samithi-NH 169 speaking at a protest in Mangaluru on Tuesday.

Mariamma K. Thomas, president of Bhoo Malikara Horata Samithi-NH 169 speaking at a protest in Mangaluru on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: H.S. MANJUNATH

Members of Bhoo Malikara Horata Samithi-NH 169 held a demonstration in front of the National Highways Authority of India’s project implementation unit here, demanding immediate payment of compensation awarded towards lands acquired in four villages for widening National Highway 169 stretch between Mangaluru (Bikarnakatte) and Karkala (Sanur).

Samithi president Mariyamma Thomas said the NHAI was delaying the payment of compensation awarded by the Special Land Acquisition Officer since 2016 for lands acquired in Padavu, Padumarnad, and Puttige villages of Mangaluru taluk and Sanur in Karkala taluk. Lands were acquired in 18 villages of Dakshina Kannada district and two villages of Udupi district on the basis of prevailing market rates.

However, NHAI regional officer took objection to the SLAO awarding compensation to lands within 20 cents on market rates and requested the officer to revise the awards in January 2021. Ms. Thomas said land owners approached the High Court, which ruled compensation once awarded could not be revised. Against this, NHAI went for arbitration to the Deputy Commissioner, who rejected the petition.

The DC rejected NHAI’s plea on the report of a committee constituted by him, which said there were no agricultural lands in Padavu village that were under acquisition. Despite this, NHAI was planning to appeal against rejection of arbitration claim, she said.

NAHI’s inaction to pay compensation goes against promises made by MP Nalin Kumar Kateel that compensation would be paid at four times of the market value in rural areas and two times in urban areas. NHAI Project Director has promised that the issue would be settled by March 20, she said cautioning launching of massive protest if it fails to adhere to the promise.

Project Director Linge Gowda said there was no provision in law to consider non-converted lands below 12.5 cents (5 guntas) as commercial lands, which is unique to Dakshina Kannada. NHAI would abide by the directions of the district administration, he said.

Change of alignment

Asked by reporters why NHAI changed the alignment near Gurupura village thereby increasing the project highway length by 5 km, Mr. Gowda said it was not done during his tenure. The decision must have been taken to avoid Gurupura village, he said and did not elaborate further.

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