Another casualty of Bengal land woes ó power project moves to Nitish land

LAND acquisition woes have led to the exit of one more project from West Bengal. Last time, Tata Motors' decision to shift its Nano factory from Singur to Sanand in Gujarat was Narendra Modi's gain. This time, the decision of Power Grid Corporation of India to shift its power transmission project from Karandighi in North Dinajpur to just 50 kilometres away in neighbouring Bihar's Kishanganj is Nitish Kumar's gain.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's fierce opposition to forcible acquisition of land, not even in cases of building infrastructure, is costing the state dear as major companies are moving out. Farmers in the state are demanding high land prices and resorting to agitation, but the state government is just not willing to intervene.

Power Grid Corporation of India, a central PSU engaged in inter-state transmission of electricity, failed to get 65 acres of land at Karandighi even after it gave Rs 15 crore to the state government for disbursement among farmers from whom land would be acquired.

Of the Rs 15 crore, Rs 2.5 crore have already been distributed among those land holders from whom about 15 acres of land was acquired. But soon, the land acquisition process hit a roadblock with farmers mounting opposition and demanding more money for their land, which led the PSU to shift the project to Kishanganj in Bihar at the fag end of last year.

Now, the officials of the corporation are knocking the doors of Mamata Banerjee government demanding Rs 2.5 crore. But the officials of the Land and Land Reforms Department of the state government don't know how to retrieve the distributed money from the farmers. "Around 50 families of farmers have received the money and they might have wined and dined with the money. The officials of Power Grid earlier wanted Rs 12.5 crore out of Rs 15 crore that they gave us. We thought the matter was over. But now they have come to us demanding the remaining Rs 2.5 crore, and we don't know how to retrieve the money,'' an official of the land department told The Indian Express.

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