Land required for road construction and industry will be acquired through negotiation as far as possible with a human face, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said while reiterating her government’s stand that there will be no forced land acquisition.

Speaking on land acquisition for widening of the NH-34 and the Katwa thermal power plant, Banerjee said in the Assembly that people cannot be evicted from congested areas like Bongaon and Gaighata, but she has requested that alignments be changed for modernising the roads.

People can be moved in a case of natural calamity, but not for industrial and road projects, she said.

Replying to a question of the Leader of Opposition and CPI(M) Politburo member Surjyakanta Mishra, Banerjee said that nothing will be done by “firing at the people”.

Stating that her government will not evict people with bulldozers, she gave an update on widening of the NH-34.

Banerjee said out of 2,380.36 acres required, 465.46 acres have been acquired in North 24 Parganas, Nadia, Malda, Uttar Dinajpur and Murshidabad districts.

Blaming the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) of not doing much about the project, she said, repeated appeals were made to the Prime Minister and the Union Road and Surface Transport Ministry in this regard.

Accepting that there were land acquisition issues in widening of the NH-34, Banerjee said that the NHAI is not doing enough, even in areas where there is no land problem.

In North 24 Parganas, out of 21 mouzas, there are problems in five mouzas only, she said.

The Chief Minister said that in Panagarh there are some technical issues, which will be sorted out in the next three months.

Replying to a supplementary question, Banerjee said that a rehabilitation package was being given for the land acquired.

In this context she mentioned without elaborating much that she was against the Centre’s Land Acquisition Act.

(This article was published on March 15, 2013)
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