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

Reported by

Meenakshi KapoorLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

October 1, 2020

Location of Conflict

Nagchala

Sundarnagar, Nachan, Balh

Mandi

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Airport

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

9600

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

567

ha

Starting Year

2018

State

Himachal Pradesh

Sector

Infrastructure

Since becoming the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh in 2017, Jai Ram Thakur has been persistently requesting the Centre for an international airport in Mandi district. In May 2018, a team of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) conducted a survey of the district for selection of a suitable site for the airport. A pre-feasibility study was carried out in Ner Dhangu village in Balh tehsil, Basadhar and Gogradhar villages in Padhar tehsil, Nagchala village in Sadar Mandi tehsil and Nandgarh and Mobiseri in Gohar tehsil. In June 2018, it was reported that 698 acres of land from Ner Chowk area in Balh could be finalised for the airport after a satellite survey confirmed the suitability of the site. However, in September 2018, it was reported that 1,401 acres from Nagchala village will be acquired for the project. The cost of acquiring this land was estimated at over INR 2,000 crore. Soon after, on October 1, Balh Bachao Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (BBKSS), a group of farmers and land owners from Balh who came together under the banner to resist takeover of their land, organised a protest outside the district headquarters in Mandi. Hundreds of villagers and other political and non-political groups also came out on the streets. They objected to the acquisition of 1,401 acres of highly productive land from Nagchala and claimed that about 2,000 families from nine villages would be displaced because of the project. According to Paras Ram, deputy head of BBKSS, 80 per cent of the population in the area belongs to the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Communities. He claimed that if the project was pursued, these families would lose their homes and their relocation would leave them more vulnerable to exploitation. Of the 1,401 acres proposed to be acquired for the airport, 1,217 acres is private land and 184 acres is government land. Most of the latter is part of the Balh Valley (Dohida) forest. In November 2018, the BBKSS submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner of Mandi and requested that instead of agricultural land, barren land should be acquired for the project. In December 2018, a four-member team of the AAI undertook the obstacle limitation surface survey at Nagchala. The objective of the survey was to identify all impediments to the project. This gave another push to the farmers agitation. In-principle approval to the project from AAI and the Ministry of Civil Aviation was granted in October 2019, following which the groups opposing the project voiced their demands once again. The BBKSS has demanded that the National Highways Authority of India first complete the process of providing compensation to the oustees of the Kiratpur-Nerchowk four-laning project at four times the market value of the land and implement the rehabilitation and resettlement policy and only then raise the issue of land acquisition for the Mandi airport. The organisation submitted another memorandum to the chief minister in November 2019. In August 2020, the BBKSS and the residents Balh valley protested outside the sub-divisional magistrates office in Mandi. They demanded the airport to be shifted to another place. In September, they wrote to the prime minister and the chief minister requesting the government to spare the multi-crop land of Balh.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Refusal to give up land for the project

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

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Acquisition Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

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:

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

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials , Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Airports Authority of India

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

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?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Meenakshi Kapoor

Reviewed By

Meenakshi Kapoor

Updated By

Meenakshi Kapoor

Edited By

Meenakshi KapoorLand Conflict Watch
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