HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
BIRATNAGAR: There has been no let up to the protests launched by the Katahari-Morang locals accusing the government of being unfair to them while compensating the annexed land meant for the construction of Jogbani-Biratnagar Railway.
Irate Katahari locals, who have reproached the government for meager compensation of the pooled land, have been protesting since 12 days. In a memorandum submitted to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai through the District Administration Office, they warned that they would obstruct the construction work in Biratnagar from today.
Coordinator of the Railway Land Requisition Victim Struggle Committee Kishor Kumar Majhi said that Rs 2-25 lakh per kattha has been compensated for the land.
Majhi went on to say that they have notified the local administration and government as well about the discrimination in providing compensation but their demand has been ignored. “The underprivileged got less compensation, while those with higher connection had received huge amount,” he said.
Locals today demanded railway construction should not proceed in Katahari 2 and 3, till the compensation are finalised to the land owner whose land has been taken over by the government. Among other demands are: Locals should be provided with an alternative land, to dissolve the present land evaluation, to implement the justifiable and equal land evaluation, to make the provision of education, employment and health facility to at two members of each family who has been displaced in the name of railway construction, to include the indigenous representative in decision making process’ committees and sub-committees, hospital, roadway and bridge should be built in the affected areas along others.
More than 80 per cent Tharus living in the region are dependent on agriculture. “They will protest from tomorrow if the compensated money can’t buy them another piece of land,” Majhi said, adding that, the government should not destroy the indigenous land in the name of construction.
The compensation declared by the Requisition Committee for the land touched by the pitch road within 50 metres is Rs 25 lakh per kattha, the pitch road untouched land in the south is Rs 17 lakh per kattha, the land 300 meters away from the pitch road in the north is Rs 8 lakh, the land 400 meters away from the road is Rs 8 lakh and the land beyond is Rs 2 lakh per kattha.
More than 55 per cent of the compensation work is said to be completed.
The total length of the proposed railway is 19 kilometres, of which 5.5-kilometre stretch falls under the Indian territory and 13.1-kilometre section in Nepal.
India has provided Rs 2.38 billion for the railway construction. Nepal government has separated Rs 700 million to compensate the locals.
The Land Requisition Evaluation Committee Coordinator and Morang’s Chief District Officer Tara Nath Gautam said that compensation has been provided differentiating Land Revenue Office’s evaluation, land condition, plotting along other aspects. “The process should not be called unscientific as the compensation has been distributed by the Committee,” he added.