Monday, April 09, 2018

Airport land acquisition: owners allege foul play in land classification

At a time when the acquisition of land for the expansion of Coimbatore International Airport had commenced with the Revenue Department receiving consent letters from land owners, a section of them have alleged lack of transparency in price fixing and classification of land.

Though the high-level committee for the land acquisition fixed the rate at ₹900 per sq ft for agriculture land and ₹1, 500 per sq ft for residential land, owners have alleged that the classification of land (agriculture or residential) was not done properly. Some of the land owners who approached Revenue Department were allegedly told that land above 25 cents would be treated as agricultural land and were asked to sign consent letter for ₹900 per sq ft. According to land owners, 30 % of them have properties above 25 cents in the 462 acres identified in 24 blocks coming under four villages.

The land owners were reportedly told by the Revenue officials involved in the acquisition procedure that this classification was done following instructions from higher authorities. Though the land owners asked for an official communication for the same, they were not given any, they alleged.
“Several people who were ready to sign the acceptance letter are now disheartened by the new classification by authorities which was communicated orally. There is no transparency in the approach by the Revenue Department and many have refused to sign the acceptance letter,” said a land owner on conditions of anonymity.

He said that lands lying close to the existing runway have also been classified as agricultural land, whereas no developmental activities or agriculture can be done in such places for a distance of 500 metre from the runway as per aviation norms.

“There are 22.54 acres in one and two blocks in the Singanallur village, which was leased to the Airport Authority of India (AAI) in 1942. AAI has constructed a compound wall on nearly three acres where the microwave station is situated. Now, owners of the land are informed that such places will be treated as agricultural land, which is not acceptable,” said P.R. Jaganathan, another land owner.
09/04/18 Wilson Thomas/The Hindu