Land ghost not laid to rest yet

Land ghost not laid to rest yet

The farmers in the region are struggling to fend off the middlemen and brokers who have evinced ‘keen interest’ in buying their lands. Though former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa had declared emphatically that the Posco project had been shelved and land would not be acquired, farmers in Halligudi say brokers were still trying to ‘persuade’ them to sell off their lands.

“Having successfully fought the outsiders, we are now facing our own people who have agreed to buy land for other industrial players. Middlemen from Hubli, Dharwad and nearby areas keep coming to us showing interest in buying our land,” said Sembana Shankarappa, a farmer.

Shankarappa was speaking to reporters at the launch of a photography exhibition on farmers’ struggles at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat on Tuesday.

While the price offered by the government and middlemen when Posco was still showing interest in the project was Rs 30 lakh per acre, the rate has now plummeted to Rs 16 lakh per acre, he said.

“The middlemen are, in fact, buying land from small and marginal farmers by citing the names of political bigwigs from north Karnataka. Some of them are Cabinet ministers, trying to purchase land from us,” said Hanumanthappa Gaddad, another farmer from Halligudi.

Narrating their experiences in trying to thwart the attempts of Posco and the government to set up steel plants in Gadag district, Gaddad said most farmers were indeed tempted by the offer of huge monetary compensations, but stayed determined not to sell their lands.

“The driving force behind our struggle were the women. Their determination to ensure that the only source of our livelihood was not snatched from the villagers fuelled our fight,” he said. Gaddad appealed for support from urban quarters for their fight.

Photo exhibition

A photo exhibition portrayed the lives of farmers and their struggle against land grabbing.
The pictures clicked by M Eshwarappa depict the saga of farmers in Halligudi, Koppal and Udupi, from the time of sowing seeds to losing their land to ‘land grabbers’.

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