Punjab sets high price for its land

Land

To now compensate farmers with Rs 1.5 cr an acre for land in Mullanpur

As farm incomes dwindle, it is Punjab's generous land compensation policy that is making millionaires out of farmers. What started as a new benchmark in land compensation by Punjab in 2008 with a handsome reward of Rs 1.5 crore an acre to farmers in Mohali's Jhurheri village for the international airport — the land in question was near the Air Force Station where no construction could take place and the prevailing market value has been pegged at Rs 50 to 60 lakh an acre — is now almost the norm.

The Aerocity Township coming up near the airport, too, fetched Rs 1.5 crore an acre for farmers in April this year. Punjab is now all set to offer an equally hefty compensation to farmers for the upcoming Urban Estate in the scenic vicinity of Chandigarh at Mullanpur.

"The land compensation for the 444 acres to be acquired by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) at Mullanpur will be Rs 1.5 crore per acre for farms near the highway and 1.25 crore for those seven or more kilometres away," said Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, S S Sandhu. The final compensation will be announced after the meeting of the price fixation committee headed by the Mohali deputy commissioner.

And it is not just the high-potential areas in Chandigarh's vicinity that have been rewarded generously by the government. Punjab has been equally magnanimous in compensating farmers whose land do not 'qualify' for such a good deal. In 2009, the erstwhile Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), now Powercom, had objected to the "high" land compensation figure for the state's biggest power project, the 2,640-MW plant at Gidderbaha.

"PSEB had referred back the matter of land compensation to the government, citing the rates to be on the higher side. Much of the land to be acquired was wasteland owing to waterlogging," said a former PSEB official.

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