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AIKS to Launch Protest Against Proposed 404-km Atal Expressway in Chambal From March 11

Since the inception of the project, the farmers in Chambal have opposed the land exchange policy and leaving of a 1-km wide patch on either side of the expressway to corporate houses.
AIKS to Launch Protest Against Proposed 404-km Atal Expressway in Chambal From March 11

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Free Press Journal

Bhopal: Demanding re-acquisition of land under the Land Acquisition Act 2013 for a 404-km-long Atal Expressway, the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha (AIKS) will launch a protest from March 11, 2022, across the Chambal region. The expressway is supposed to connect Kota to Agra crossing Madhya Pradesh Sheopur, Bhind and Morena districts, 

In an official communique, Badal Saroj, joint secretary of AIKS, informed that the Sabha would carry out bike rallies starting from March 11 to 14 from Ater, Ambah, Morena in the first phase Joura, Sabalgarh and Sheopur. On the concluding day, the memorandums addressing the chief minister will be handed over to the district officials to register the farmers' disagreement with the ongoing project.

"A team comprising farmers of Bhind, Morena and Sheopur districts were formed which will not only create awareness about ill-effects of the project to the masses but also pressure the government to meet our demands," said Badal Saroj. "Ashok Tiwar, vice-president of AIKS Madhya Pradesh will lead the protest."

The Rs 8,250-crore Chambal Expressway begins from Kota in Rajasthan and passes through Sheopur, Morena and Bhind to merge into Kanpur highway in UP. The Progress Way is proposed as a four-lane and sufficient land will be spared to develop eight lanes in the future.

Of the total length of 404 km, Madhya Pradesh will house 309 km of the expressway. This corridor will touch the Agra-Kanpur expressway at Bhind, the North-South Corridor at Morena, and the Delhi-Mumbai corridor in Rajasthan.

According to official sources, the state government must acquire 3,060 hectares of land for the project from Bhind, Morena and Sheopur districts bordering Delhi and Rajasthan. Of which 1,600 hectares of land belong to the Revenue and Forest departments and 1,460 hectares of private land primarily belong to farmers, for which Rs 335 crore has been estimated to be spent.

After the compilation of the project, the state government has planned to open a logistics hub in Bhind, a multi-industrial hub in Morena and agricultural-based industries in Sheopur.

The project, which was launched by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in 2017, picked up pace after former Congress leader Jyotiradiya Scindia, who hails from Chambal, switched over to the BJP along with 22 MLAs in March 2020. This led to the fall of a 15-month-long Congress government. The grand old party had returned to power after 15 years of wait. The state government sanctioned financial assistance of Rs 781 crore for this project, including Rs 421 crore for land on July 4, 2020.

As per the exchange policy, farmers are being offered barren or agricultural land at different locations in place of the land acquired. In contrast, the majority of the farmers are demanding compensation under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, which amounts to four times the market value of the land in rural areas and two times in urban areas.

Newsclick has earlier reported on the farmers of Sheopur holding a protest against the land exchange policy in 2020.

The AIKS has demanded re-notification under the Land Acquisition Act - 2013, allotment of land to farmers to set up agro-based industries instead of giving one-kilometre corridor on either side of the expressway to the corporate houses. They also demanded entry points (cuts) near big villages to enter the expressway, which is only seven in a 404-km long patch, and financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh per Bigha (0.25 hectare) to those farmers who are taking lands under exchange policy to make the land fertile.

Terming the ongoing proposal of the Atal Expressway anti-farmer and against the environment, AIKS claimed that the state government was trying to hand over the fate of the Chambal region's farmers to the mercy of the corporate houses. "If the ongoing project goes as it is proposed, it will not only devastate dozens of century-old villages but also adversely impact the geography and environment of the region," said Saroj.

During a review meeting of Expressway on January 12, 2022, with district collectors and nodal officers of the project, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan emphasised that the farmers would get double the price of the acquired land, and the project should be completed on time. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, MP from Morena parliamentary constituency, also participated in the meeting.

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