Expressway runs into land hurdle in CM wife’s seat

After the cold shoulder by investors forced it to settle for the cash-contract model to build the Lucknow-Agra Expressway, the UP government is now staring at another hurdle — this time at his wife Dimple Yadav's parliamentary constituency, Kannauj, where farmers are protesting against the acquisition of agricultural land for the project.

Farmers of several villages have been staging dharna for the past 11 days at three different places — Saurikh, Pachod and Phagha villages — in Kannauj.

Nearly 700 bighas of land of nearly 250 farmers of about a dozen villages, including Phagwa Bhatta, Ratapurwa, Rajai Modh, Lohamarh, Nathapurwa, Dundapurwa, are affected. Several rounds of talks with district administration have failed to pacify them.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is learnt to have sent Arvind Yadav, the MLA from Kannauj's Chhibramau constituency, two days ago to reason with the farmers but to no avail.

"We will not give up our land. Most of us are marginal farmers and we may lose our entire land. The compensation amount will not be sufficient for our survival lifelong ," Ram Naresh, one of the farmers, said.

"We will give our life, but not our land," Ram Prasad, another farmer, said.

"Farmers are protesting against acquisition of their land. I personally met them twice. They are not satisfied with the route of expressway which is passing through their land," Rajesh Kumar Yadav, Additional District Magistrate (ADM), Kannauj said.

Earlier, Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Development Authority, in its first survey, had marked the expressway route near the bird sanctuary in Kannauj. However, it did not get environment clearance and the route was shifted thus affecting several villages. "Farmers are adamant that the expressway should be constructed on the earlier route. It is not possible due to non-availability of the environment clearance,"the ADM said.

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