Monday, November 05, 2007


GANGTOK, November 03: In what could be termed as a collective effort and display of unity, more than 80 land owners of Martam, East Sikkim today unanimously refused to part with their land for Government use.
The land owners led a delegation here today at the District Administrative Centre to attend a meeting called by the District Collector, East, Vishal Chauhan.
The meeting was held in compliance to the objections raised by the land owners towards the State government’s “first step” acquirement of their land for industrial purpose.
Prior to the meeting, an application signed by all the land owners was submitted to the DC. The letter mentioned their refusal to part with their land.
According to the land owners, each affected family has barely less than an acre of land and parting with that piece would render them practically landless. Most of the land are family holdings, yet to be divided amongst the members. “The land division is till in the process,” they said.
Martam is primarily an agricultural area known for the beautiful terraced paddy fields on which livelihood of the locals depend upon. The locals claim that many foreigners including Japanese researchers come to Martam to research on the paddy. Bounded on one side by the Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary, the fields produce more than seven varieties of rice.
Interacting with the land owners, the DC made it clear that the land will not be taken forcibly if the land owners do not give their consent to the acquisition. “The State Government has never acquired land forcibly,” he added.
Martam, according to the DC, is one among the other lands in Sikkim shortlisted for industrial purposes.
The State Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department vide Notification No 25/124/LR&DMS (S) dated September 13, 2007 had sent a notice to acquire land in the block of Martam, East Sikkim for an Industrial Growth Centre under Section 4 (1) of Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (Act 1 of 1894).
The DC also gave a patient hearing to crucial issues raised by the villagers and at the same time assured to take the “prayers and requests” of the people to the Government.
The land owners, in the meantime, are confident and hopeful that the Government would concede it accordingly