Zirakpur Urban Estate far from reality

Published: 17th July 2006
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Source: tribune.com

The ultra-modern Zirakpur Urban Estate, to be developed by the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) in Singhpura, Ramgarh Bhudda and Nagla villages to give a fillip to the planned urban growth, continues to hang in fire even as the farmers and elected representatives are up in arms against the government's move.

The elected representatives of the area have again urged Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to intervene and stop the "forcible" acquisition of land by PUDA. In fact, the local MLA and SAD general secretary, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, has gone on record pledging "whole-hearted" support to the farmers. "The acquisition of land for the urban estate is a gross injustice to the residents and my party is with the farmers against the government decision," the Akali leader says.

With elections to the state Assembly nearly a year away, Capt Kanwaljit Singh's reaction is expected. The run-up to the elections is likely to witness the politicians, cutting across the party lines, championing the people's cause. However, the former state finance minister's soft corner for colonisers is also well-known.

The authority had already issued notices under Sections 4, 6 and 9 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, for the acquisition of about 200 acres in the first phase for the creation of a state-of-the-art urban estate on the strategic Chandigarh-Ambala highway.

However, soon after the farmers opposed the move alleging that a majority of them are small and marginal farmers and PUDA is bent upon "uprooting" them. Another reason for the farmers' opposition is that the compensation for the acquired land is "too less" and PUDA is adopting a "pick-and-choose" policy exempting lands of certain influential persons, alleges Mr Jagjit Singh Jaggi, coordinator for the villagers.

Even the Zirakpur master plan clearly shows the proposed urban estate area in the Nagar Panchayat limits. Besides, the acquisition by PUDA is in violation of the Punjab New Capital Periphery Act, 1952, Mr Jaggi adds.

It is being argued that with Zirakpur bursting at seams, the inclusion of the three villages in the Nagar Panchayat is a matter of time. If the villages are included in the Nagar Panchayat, private builders will step in to purchase the land at exorbitant prices. The anticipation of higher prices for the land is fuelling the farmers' protests, sources say.

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