Hundreds of farmers blocked traffic on roads leading to New Moti Bagh Palace, the residence of Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh in Patiala, on Friday and took out a tractor march to protest the land acquisition for the Delhi-Katra expressway.
The farmers, who did not observe the Covid-19 protocol of maintaining social distance or wearing masks, arrived in the city from different parts of the state and marched towards the chief minister’s residence. The heavy police deployment could not restrict the farmers as they broke barricades and blocked roads leading to Captain Amarinder Singh’s residence.
Also read: Will treat action against social media Covid appeals as ‘contempt of court’: SC
Superintendent of police, city, Varun Sharma said the police were managing the law and order situation. “It is too early to say about any action against the protesters. We will surely act according to the law once we control the situation,” he said.
The protesters want the state government to immediately stop the land acquisition process till the Centre resolves the issue of the farm laws against which farmers have been protesting on Delhi borders. They also demanded that the government revise the rates for land acquisition so that farmers get lucrative offers for selling their land.
Struggle for better compensation
Ramesh Dalal, the president of the Bharat Bhumi Bachao Sangharsh Committee, also reached the spot and joined protest.
Harmanpreet Singh Jeji, the coordinator of the Delhi-Katra Expressway Kisan Sangharsh Committee, said that the farmers have been protesting peacefully for the past five months, but the state government has not heeded to their demands. “The state government should stop playing in the hands of the Centre in acquiring land for the project,” he said.
He said that the government had called the farmers for a meeting several times in which they were assured that the acquisition process will be stopped temporarily.
“A discussion was also held on compensation, on which we were told that the competent authority will award handsome compensation per acre,” he said.
The National Highway Authority of India had initially come up with a compensation of ₹9.67 lakh per acre, but later farmers were offered ₹18 lakh. However, after the state government implemented the multiplication factor for land acquisition, many farmers were offered ₹55 lakh
More than 200 villages in Patiala, Sangrur, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Gurdaspur and Pathankot have already passed a resolution not to give their land for the project.
In January, aiming to break the deadlock over the issue, the state government notified the new multiplication factor (with which market value is to be multiplied) under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, but the issue remains unresolved.