ABHISHEK Industries Limited, the flagship company of the Rs 1,500-crore Trident group, may agree to pay 70% of the amount over and above the award announced earlier by the collector towards the full and final compensation to landowners in Barnala. The Lok Adalat is likely to settle the cases in the first week of January.
A meeting on this was held in Chandigarh headed by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. Trident officials, owners of the disputed land, chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh and principal secretary, industries, AR Talwar were present. The chief minister was briefed about the latest development wherein Punjab’s industry department was drafting an agreement to ensure a settlement of the issue at the latest.
For the past two-and-a-half years, the company has been in the midst of a controversy over land purchased and compensation given to farmers. The Punjab government under the Congress regime had acquired the 376-acre plot for the company in the villages of Dhaula, Sangherra and Fatehgarh Chhanna near Barnala.
The 328 landowners had expressed dissatisfaction with the compensation given to them for setting up a spinning unit and a ready-made garments unit on the acquired land in Sangherra village and setting up of a sugar mill, a paper mill, a power generation unit and a bed sheet plant on the acquired land of Dhaula and Chhanna villages.
According to a government official, “An out-of-court settlement by way of Lok Adalat was the only solution for the company and the farmers to proceed ahead. A tripartite agreement between the Punjab government, Abhishek Industries and the landowners will ensure that there will be no further litigation.”
“Once that agreement comes into effect, another accord between the Punjab government and the company will be drawn up to settle issues of further claims of land owners,” he added.
It is likely that claims, if they arise at a later stage, will be recovered by the company by arrears of land revenue.
Currently, the government and the company are examining the various clauses of the tripartite and joint agreements.
To be a part of the tripartite agreement, 328 landowners had to file their land reference with the additional session judge of Barnala. “Of the 328 land owners, 285 have filed their reference and the rest are expected to file it in the coming days,” said a source.
On June 30 this year, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had clinched a comprehensive package of understanding with the farmers who had been agitating for compensation for the land acquired by the previous Congress government for the Trident Group of Industries in Barnala.