Yettinahole hits a hurdle in coffee land

The Yettinahole project work site in Sakleshpur taluk in Hassan district.

The Yettinahole project work site in Sakleshpur taluk in Hassan district.

The ongoing land acquisition for the Yettinahole drinking water project has hit a hurdle with some farmers unhappy with the price chart fixed by the district committee and are refusing to part with land. Though the Cabinet approved direct acquisition as a special case to speed up the process, this could mean a slowdown.

Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd. (KNNL) is currently acquiring land in Sakleshpur taluk and coffee estate owners are unhappy with the prices fixed under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act. The district committee has announced the prices for 483 acres in 22 villages of the taluk, and landowners have been given one month to file objections, if any. The price fixed for coffee plantations ranges from ₹21 lakh to ₹38 lakh per acre, and this has not gone down well with some landowners.

Take the case of Halasulige village. The price for coffee plantation has been fixed at ₹36.31 lakh, while kushki (dry land) has been valued at ₹39.2 lakh.

“Coffee plantations cost high compared to dry land. In fact, people buy kushki land and spend money on cultivating coffee. The price of coffee plantation should have been more. We are objecting to the price fixed by the committee,” said Anne Gowda, a retired tahsildar and planter.

Officers of the KNNL admitted that a few landowners had refused to accept the notices calling for objections. “Many people do not register their purchases at the actual market price to registration charges. If such figures are taken into account, the farmers will not be getting fair price,” opined Ramegowda of Aluvalli.

The price chart varies from village to village depending on the market value in recent years. The price fixing committee has taken the average price at which the land purchases were registered in the last three years to arrive at the present market price.

The Yettinahole project is to provide drinking water for districts in dry areas by diverting 24.01 tmcft of water from Yettinahole. R. Cheluvaraju, chief engineer of the project, told The Hindu: “The government allowed direct acquisition to speed up the project. In the normal course, following all procedures, the land acquisition would have taken up to two years to complete. With this, the process could be completed within a few months.”

Changing mood over the project

Over the years, people’s reaction to the Yettinahole project has undergone a change in Sakleshpur taluk. When the project was proposed, there were many opposing it, but gradually the intensity of opposition has receded and a section of farmers have started renting out their land for works related to the project. Many have an understanding with contractors to part with their land temporarily.

Meanwhile, the legal battle against the project is still going on at the National Green Tribunal. Environmentalists have moved the tribunal alleging that the government avoided environment impact assessment by projecting it as a drinking water project, though the basic intention was to divert water for irrigation purposes. So far, there has not been an order to stop the project.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 3:26:09 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/yettinahole-hits-a-hurdle-in-coffee-land/article19146137.ece