Monday, February 6, 2012

Judgment - KPCL trips as Sirsi farmer delivers shock

Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) will remember Jan 11, 2012 for a long time to come. It was the day when the corporation came close to losing its headquarters, thanks to a pugnacious farmer.

On a day of high drama, Shivram Goankar, a farmer from Bailkol village, North Canara district, embarrassed the KPCL no end when he, along with court and police officials, arrived at Shakti Bhavan (KPCL headquarters) in Bangalore to auction its property based on a court direction. And the reason for this unusual development? Compensation.
In 1997, the KPCL built a dam across Kali River to generate 512 lakh units of power. The Kali-Kodasalli power project was situated in Joida and Yallapura taluks of North Canara.
Due to the dam, five villages in Joida and Yallapura taluks and several thousand acres of land were submerged; over 400 families also lost their livelihood.
The KPCL, which had initially assured suitable compensation to the affected villagers, later went back on its promise and offered a meagre amount of land and money as compensation. When few farmers objected to the compensation package and demanded rehabilitation of the village in terms of providing basic amenities, the KPCL refused to raise the compensation, forcing the aggrieved farmers to knock the court’s doors.
Goankar filed a civil suit in the Sirsi court demanding more compensation. In his petition, Goankar argued that the compensation amount of `29 lakh was very less, besides KPCL had offered him only 3 acres when he had lost 5 acres of land.
Based on the petition, the civil court in 2005 had directed KPCL to pay an additional compensation of `28 lakh. However, KPCL approached the high court challenging the lower court order.
The HC not only upheld the lower court order, but also raised the compensation amount to `93 lakh. KPCL then approached the Supreme Court challenging the HC verdict, but the apex court quashed their petition on January 1 and directed KPCL to pay the amount at the earliest.  

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