Farmers in Himachal Pradesh Oppose Takeover of Fertile Land for Mandi Airport

Reported by

Meenakshi Kapoor

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

January 2, 2020

January 2, 2020

Updated on

January 2, 2020

Location of Conflict

Nagchala

Sundarnagar, Nachan, Balh valley

Mandi

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Airport

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

9600

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

292

ha

Starting Year

2018

State

Himachal Pradesh

Sector

Infrastructure

In May 2018, a team of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) conducted a prefeasibility survey in the Mandi district to select a suitable site for a new international airport in Himachal Pradesh. In September, AAI gave clearance to a location in Balh valley for the project. According to a news report, the cost of acquisition was estimated at over INR 2,000 crore for 3,500 bighas of land across eight villages, of which 3,040 bighas is private land while 460 bighas is governmentowned.   However, the affected farmers and landowners immediately raised objections on the takeover of their lands. They collected under the banner of Balh Bachao Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (BBKSS) to request the state to acquire barren land nearby instead of their fertile lands. They have highlighted that agriculture is the dominant source of livelihood in the region. Meanwhile, the Chief Minister committed to pursuing the project as it would give a boost to tourism and development activities in the state.  According to the chairperson of BBKSS, 2,000 families would lose their agricultural land and be displaced in the process. He claims that many of them are already affected by the previous highway development project. On October 01, 2018, the affectedpersons organised a protest outside the district headquarters in Mandi and submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister through the SubDivisional Magistrate.  In a news report, the divisional president of BKSS highlighted that the loss of land would severely affect the multicropping and cash cropbased agricultural practices, groundwater availability, and the livelihood of the migrant workers in the region. The protestors have also claimed that the acquisition would violate provisions under LARR 2013. In December 2018, the protestors staged a sitin outside the SDMs office. They submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of the state. However, in October 2019, the project received inprinciple approval from the AAI and the Ministry of Civil Aviation.  The BBKSS has demanded that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) should first complete the process of providing compensation to the outsees of the KiratpurNerchowk fourlaning project at four times the market value of the land and implement the rehabilitation and resettlement policy and subsequently, attempt to acquire land for the Mandi airport. In November 2019, the organisation submitted another memorandum to the Chief Minister.  Since then the protests have continued. In August 2020, the residents of Balh valley formed human chains at several locations in protest. According to Samiti's president, Joginder Walia, at least 75 per cent of the population in six out of eight villages consist of the households of Dalits, Other Backward Castes and Muslim communities. He stated that these households would be worst affected by the stateled displacement. Also deputy head of BBKSS, Paras Ram, has claimed that the circle rates decided would not compensate the farmers for their actual earnings from cultivation. As per a news report, in November 2020, Samiti released a press statement condemning the state governments attempts to expedite the project without addressing the affected peoples grievances and their socioenvironmental implications. They also recommended an alternative location for the project, which is primarily governmentowned. Later that month, a SSBKK delegation took out a rally and submitted their demands in the district headquarters. They also threatened to intensify protests and take direct action if the state government did not respond to the concerns. In February 2021, Walia claimed that the state government continued to ignore the interests of the people affected. SKSS also held public meetings in the affected villages to discuss the adverse impact of the project on arable land, livelihood sustainability and the lands proneness to flooding.  On March 01, 2021, farmers collected to march in protest to SDMs office and submitted another memorandum for the Chief Minister demanding relocation of the airport. In April, the workers again protested on farms by holding banners. Currently, the villagers, with the support of other political and nonpolitical groups, continue to protest th land acquisition process. However, the state government has remained an ardent advocate of the project by affirming to its developmental and strategic potential

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Refusal to give up land for the project

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand for compensation

Opposition against environmental degradation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

2000

Type of investment:

Investment Expected

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Acquisition Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
Section 41: Special provision for land belong to those from SC/ST communities- land acquisition needs to be made only as a last resort
Himachal Pradesh Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Social Impact Assessment and Consent) Rules, 2015
Rule 16: State government must obtain the prior consent of the landowners through the District Collector
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Controversial land acquisition by the government

Non-implementation/violation of LARR Act

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Airports Authority of India

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Airports Authority of India

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

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