Bypass of national road 66 Kazhakuttam-Karode: better compensation likely for landowners

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The chances of better compensation for some 1,900 landowners in the villages of Kottukal, Kanjiramkulam, Thirupuram, Chenkal and Karode who ceded land for Section II of the National Route 66 bypass from Kazhakuttam-Karode have improved with a High Court verdict in favor of a few landowners.

Secretary of the Vengapotta-based Kazhakuttam-Karode Bypass Action Council S. Manirao, Treasurer G. Chandran and 25 others who approached the High Court for improved compensation and a rehabilitation program were granted a favorable order, the court observing that most of those who ceded land were not compensated until December 2014.

The petitioners are of the view that landowners have a right to greater compensation when land is taken over for public use. The enhanced compensation is sought under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013.

While the 2013 law was under consideration by the president, the district purchasing committee reached an agreement with the landowners who ceded land. The land was acquired by donating only 30% of the price set by the District Purchasing Committee.

The council asked for 5.25 lakh per hundred for Category A land and 10% less for the other four categories of land. An arbitrator was appointed following a commotion by the council demanding higher compensation for the land.

Walk by referees

A 15% increase in compensation and 9% interest was announced by then arbitrator and district collector N. Venkatesapathy for 165 people. Mr. Venkatesapathy’s successor, K. Vasuki, sanctioned 50% additional compensation and 9% interest from the date of notification of land acquisition to 185 people.

But, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) appealed the arbitrator’s decision.

However, the NHAI did not oppose the hike announced by Mr. Venkatesapathy.

V. Sudhakaran, chairman of the action council, said the NHAI unnecessarily took those who surrendered their land to court. The earlier price set for the land as well as the increased compensation declared by the collector are comparable to the price set by the district purchasing committee, which was approved by the NHAI, he said.

The council chairman said many others who had ceded land from the five villages for Reach II have gone to court to seek improved compensation and rehabilitation programs.

Stronger compensation should be given to all because some did not have the resources to take legal action, Sudhakaran said.


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