GTA released a letter signed by owners in Jamuney land dispute case

The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) today released a letter to the media signed by 12 land owners of Jamuney that states their willingness to part with their land upon receiving compensation as per government regulations.

Disputed land in Jamuney
Disputed land in Jamuney

The 13.8 acres of land at Jamuney, about 20 km from town, is in the eye of a storm following allegations by nine land owners about their plots being forcibly acquired by the GTA without paying adequate compensation.

The letter is dated December 26, 2012 and states the landowners are “happy” to part with their land if the GTA compensates them according to government norms.

“We have the letter written by 12 landowners saying they are willing to part with their land. Therefore, the allegation against us of forcibly acquiring their land stands incorrect,” said a GTA official on condition of anonymity.

According to the official, the land owners had also written a letter on November 11 last year requesting the GTA to release the compensation amounts by December 31, 2013.

“We have no problem in compensating the land owners because it is mandatory. But it was difficult to complete the formalities and processes within a couple of month as demanded by the owners,” noted the official.

The GTA handed out compensations to two of the land owners on June 9 of this year at the rate of Rs8 lakh per acre, claimed the official. Roshan Rai, who owns 1.49 acres, and Lal Bahadur Rasialy, owner of 0.60 decimal of land in Jamuney, have already been compensated, he informed, adding the GTA will also construct houses for the two and offer a job to a family member in the council.

Further, the official issued a letter written on May 22 of this year by the GTA to the Darjeeling district magistrate urging him to initiate the land acquisition process according to the existing laws. The council’s letter states that it is ready to acquire land in Jamuney through private purchase.

When contacted, Shree Prasad Dewan, one of the signatories to the letter sent to the GTA in 2012, said he is not happy with the compensation being offered.

“As far as I am concerned, the rate being offered by the GTA is not enough. We should be getting four times that amount along with permanent jobs and proper rehabilitation,” said Dewan, who owns 2.2 acres.

But when he was reminded of the letter he too had signed stating his willingness to part with his property, the landowner said, “I was willing to forego my land for development work being undertaken by the GTA. But when I did not receive adequate compensation, I approached the district magistrate. I am still willing to negotiate, but it should be done in the presence of district administration or state government representatives.”

After the nine land losers filed a complaint against the GTA, the district administration in April of this year imposed a prohibitory order halting all ongoing works in Jamuney. But the following month, the district and session’s court issued a stay order vacating section 144 of the CrPC that had been imposed by the administration. Meanwhile, six persons were arrested a few days ago for threatening a land owner allegedly under orders from Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung.

Darjeeling DM Puneet Yadav said he is not in a position at the moment to comment on the issue as he has not received any letter from the GTA.

He said, “I have not seen the document that is with the GTA as I have not been sent a copy of it yet. There are issues related to purchase of land owned by the Scheduled Tribe community. I cannot comment amid such a backdrop.”

Source: EOI

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