Bimal Gurung's final call for Jamuni tourism project

Bimal Gurung's final call for Jamuni tourism project
Bimal Gurung today gave the "final call" to those who had refused to part with land for a tourism project in Jamuni, asking them to come to the negotiation table failing which the tourism project would be relocated to another spot.

Gurung made the announcement at the opening of a Krishi-Bagwani Mela at Jamuni today.

The mela was organised keeping out the disputed land from the fair area.

Last year, nine landowners had complained to the Darjeeling district magistrate alleging that Gurung had been organising the farming and horticulture fair since 2012 on their 13-acre land. They had said Gurung had taken over the land for the tourism project without their consent and not given them any compensation.

"I am making the final call to the landowners.... We will give them adequate compensation. Everything can be sorted out through talks. In the past, the issue was politicised and farmers were the losers in the end," Gurung said today.

Some of the nine landlosers, all farmers, had joined Trinamul last year after which, they lodged the complaint with the district magistrate. Most of the land in Jamuni is agricultural.

"This is the final appeal. If the owners do not want to part with land, we would relocate the water kingdom and Mughal garden (project) to Singla. In any case, we are planning to develop Singla. We will invest around Rs 20-22 crore on Singla in the first phase," Gurung said.

Singla is 10km from Jamuni.Sources in the GTA said Jamuni project's estimated cost was around Rs 7.5 crore. Jamuni is 20km from Darjeeling town.

"Earlier, the DGHC had also taken over land in various places across the hills but no one was given compensation. The GTA is willing to compensate," Gurung said.

Sources in the GTA said the hill body had not worked out any rate of compensation. "Let them (the landlosers) first come to us," said a GTA source.

Among the nine families, two families - of Roshan Rai and Lal Bahadur Rasaily - had agreed to part with the land in July last year.

Rai's family owned 1.4 acres and the Rasaily's had 0.60 decimal.

The families were compensated at the rate of Rs 8 lakh an acre (100 decimals make an acre) and promised a government job and a house.

The remaining seven families had refused compensation. Although the families could not be contacted today, Shree Prasad Dewan, who owns 2.2 acres and who had refused to part with his land, had earlier said they were "entitled to four times the rate of Rs 8 lakh per acre, apart from a permanent job and a house."

Apart from the district magistrate imposing prohibitory orders in Jamuni for two months from April last year, on June 17, Darjeeling police seized two bulldozers, an excavator and a pick-up van and arrested six people for allegedly threatening landowner Manilal Tamang whose family owns 8 of the 13 acres of disputed land.

On July 2, the GTA wrote to the district magistrate saying they would not go ahead with the project.

The Telegraph

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