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Stop work on STP or face protest: Laxmi Hebbalkar

BELAGAVI

Laxmi Hebbalkar, MLA, has warned of a protest against the State government if it does not cancel work on a sewage treatment plant in Halaga village in two days.

“I am setting this deadline for the State government to reconsider its decision. If it goes ahead with the project, I will take to the streets along with the affected farmers,” she told presspersons here on Thursday.

According to her, the best option is to shift the project to an uninhabited place.

“The government should follow the model of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerji and return the land to farmers. Otherwise, it should at least increase the compensation,” she said.

She alleged that the government had released Rs. 13 lakh per acre for non-fertile land acquired in 2008 but fixed only Rs. 3 lakh per acre for the Halaga lands acquired in 2009.

She also demanded that her party colleague and district in-charge Minister Satish Jarkiholi support the farmers and not press for the project. “He should not play with the lives of the 150 farmers who will be affected,” she said.

“Jarkiholi said that there was no question of abandoning the project and that the government was willing to enhance the compensation to farmers. In such a situation, he should stand with the farmers and oppose the project,” she said.

Last year, Ms. Hebbalkar took on the Jarkiholi brothers over the elections to the Belagavi taluk Primary Land Development Bank.

The public spat led to cracks in the district Congress which led to Ramesh Jarkiholi distancing himself from the Congress leadership.

A STP for Belagavi has been pending for over three decades. The district administration acquired 19 acres of land in Halaga for the STP in 2009-2010. The land has been transferred to the Belagavi city corporation.

Revenue officials say farmers losing land have received Rs. 3 lakh per acre as compensation. Some farmers who had approached the court against the land acquisition have not succeeded.

Satish Jarkiholi had announced that the State government could hike the compensation to Rs. 30 lakh per acre considering this as a special case.

However, since the land is near the national highway, opposite the Suvarna Soudha, it has seen an escalation in value, making the farmers seek more compensation, say officers.

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