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The Income Tax (IT) department’s decision to collect IT from the land losers getting compensation above Rs one lakh from Essar Steel for the company’s pelletisation project at Paradeep has paralyzed the land acquisition process. Land losers have threatened not to concede even an inch of land if the collection of IT is not stopped.

Sources said the IT department has given directions to the special land acquisition officer to deduct tax on the lines of Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) from the land losers during payment of compensation.

The district administration has decided to deduct tax at the rate of 10 per cent along with surcharge and education cess in a case where compensation exceeds Rs one lakh.

Nrusingh Swain, the special land acquisition officer of Paradeep admitted that IT would be deducted from the land losers of Bijyachandpur village as per the directive of the IT department.

The villagers of Bijayachandpur have to pay IT as the village comes under the limit of Paradeep municipality.

It may be noted that Essar Steel needed to acquire 1663 acres of private land in seven villages for its Paradeep project. Of its total land requirement, 218 acres had to be acquired from Bijayachandpur Swain said that the land losers in other villages would be exempted from IT as they are located in the rural areas.

On Saturday, the special land acquisition officer of Paradeep offered compensation to the land losers of Bijayachandpur, the village affected by Essar Steel’s project by conducting the award passing camp at Paradeep. However, hundreds of land losers spurned the compensation offer, terming the deduction of IT as illegitimate.

Pitamber Tarai, a noted farmers’ leader, the sarpanch of Bhutmundei and other leaders have taken a strong exception to the IT department’s move to collect tax from the farmers and land losers. They have pointed that Bijyachandpur village is a remote area having no road communication, electricity, health and drinking water facilities.

These leaders have argued that if the village comes within the urban limit, then the compensation of the land losers should be increased Rs 70-80 lakh per acre of land as in the case of Mumbai, Delhi and other cities.

The government had fixed a compensation of Rs 19.10 lakh per acre of land for the villagers of Bijyachandpur as against their demand of Rs 30-40 lakh per acre. The leaders pointed out that Essar Steel had acquired 60-70 acres of private land but no income tax was deducted.

Similarly, the special land acquisition officer of Paradeep had disbursed Rs 18 crore towards compensation in last year to the land losers of Essar project but not a single paisa was deducted for IT.

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June 2024