Karnataka Farmers Refuse To Give Up Land in Belagavi for Sewage Project

Reported by

Elizabeth ManiLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

February 8, 2021

Location of Conflict

Halaga

,

Belagavi

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Waste Management

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

720

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

8

ha

State

Karnataka

Sector

Infrastructure

Belagavi Shetkari Sanghatan (an association of farmers) in Halaga village are firm on their decision to not give up their fertile land for a Special Treatment Plant (STP) proposed in their village in Belagavi district. Some farmers have even threatened to commit suicide if the project went ahead as planned. They have also submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the district administration and the Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board (KUWSDB) stating the same.

In April 2018, the KUWSDB called a meeting of Municipal Administration Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi with the farmers to convince them to give up their agricultural land, but they refused.

The STP was first proposed on a plot of government-owned barren land in Alarwad village by the Belagavi City Corporation (BCC) in 1985 to treat sewage water generated in Belagavi city. The state government sanctioned funds worth INR 10 crore the same year, and work on the plant began soon after. The BCC even completed the laying of underground drainage lines. But the Pollution Control Board objected, stating that the plant was too close to residential areas and public places. The BCC then decided to shift the plant to Halaga village in 2007. By then, half of the work in Alarwad had already been completed. The district authorities decided that the STP plant in Halaga should be at least 10 kilometres away from the city. Under the new plan, the KUWSDB plans to install two pump houses in Halaga to pump the sewage for treatment. The authorities had offered compensation of INR 7,000 per gunta (40 gunta is equal to one acre) to the farmers for their land, while the current market price is INR 30 lakh per gunta.

The farmers in Halaga village believe that the BCC took a wrong decision to shift the plant from Alarwad to Halaga as the plant would be set up on fertile agricultural land in Halaga, increasing the chances of soil contamination. They claim the STP would have been operational by now if it would have been set up on barren land in Alarwad village as was proposed initially.

In 2015, the Dharwad High Court ruled that the STP was necessary for the city as it would prevent sewage waste from spilling into the land and water. The farmers appealed against the order to a double bench of the high court the same year. In May 2017, the district commissioner ordered the officials of the BCC and KUWSDB to submit a status report of the plant after the farmers staged a massive protest. Additional Deputy Commissioner H.B. Budeppa said that the project cannot be implemented under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, if the farmers are unwilling to give up their land. He asked the KUWSDB to look for an alternate location or to try and set up the STP in its original location in Alarwad. In August 2018, then Additional Deputy Commissioner Suresh Itnal asked Assistant Commissioner Kavita Yogappannavar to get a report of the ground situation from the farmers and the BCC.

Following this, on May 19, 2019, a meeting was called by the water resource minister and was attended by MLA, Belgavi (Rural) and MLA, Belgavi (South) where the suggestion of moving the STP to Khasbag, Belgaum was mooted. At the same meeting, BCC Commissioner updated the attendees that under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation scheme, 19 acres of land were identified at another location to set up the STP and INR 1.12 crore compensation would be given to people who stand to lose their land. A committee representing farmers was sought to be set up to take a final call in the matter.

Subsequently, on June 7, 2019, the MLA of Belagavi (Rural) publicly declared that she would not allow work on the STP unless commensurate and equitable compensation was paid. A year later, on June 22, 2020, work on the STP commenced under police protection even as farmers protested.

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Private

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):

156

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

8

ha

Starting Year

2015

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Refusal to give up land for the project

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board (KUWSDB)

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

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