Farmers pinning hopes on SC verdict

Nagarajappa of Venkateshapura was once the proud owner of about fifty acres of land. Today, he clings to a mere three acres of land.

It is nearly six years since the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) had acquired around 3,000 acres of land from hundreds of farmers of 16 villages in Byatarayanapura assembly constituency to develop the Arkavathi Layout. According to farmers, the BDA had notified the acquisition of 3,800 acres of land in 2003 but on January 4, 2004, the government agreed to acquire 2,750 acres. “The BDA agreed to pay Rs 11 lakh for each acre of land it had acquired,” they echo. 

The government’s alleged failure to provide alternate plots farmers whose land had to be sacrificed for developmental purposes has now rendered them jobless and landless.
The wait for the promised compensation continues.  Many farmers without land, money and job are struggling to learn the skills of survival. The big farmers have turned to real estate and are reaping gold from their agricultural land by forming private layouts. The medium-level farmers are trying their luck in business by opening grocery shops and other business marts. Some of them have even started automobile workshops.

The worst sufferers are small-time farmers who do not have expertise in any other field barring farming. The land they possessed was offering them some support to eke out a living. They are now taking up occupations as farm labourers while their women have become maid servants in the nearby apartments.One such small-time farmer is Basavaraj who owned one acre and two Guntas of land, which he lost when the Layout was formed.  Now he works as a farm labourer and earns around Rs 3,000 a month. “It is quite difficult to survive on Rs 3,000 a month in Bangalore but we are struggling to survive,” he laments.

In Arkavathi Layout, many farmers were against the acquisition because they were emotionally attached to their ancestral property and traditional business of farming. Some farmers lament that they have not got compensation even after six years of acquisition of land because some fifty odd farmers have filed petition in the Supreme Court questioning the acquisition by the BDA.

Lingaiah, a farmer in Arkavathi Layout said, “If all the land is turned into sites or industrial area, will man survive by eating soil or industrial items like steel, iron, plastics or chemicals. “There should be an end to the rat race for money because wealth can give you prosperity but not happiness,” the farmer cautioned.

They traded their land for growth of B’lore
Wherever Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) goes, development follows.”  Unfortunately, this development comes at a price: one that was paid and is still being paid by hundreds of farmers and landowners in and around the City of Bangalore.
Acquisition of land is a basic step towards upgrading infrastructure in any City. Landowners have borne the brunt of parting with their precious assets in the process. 
While the case of the Arkavathi Layout resonates in the ears of any landowner parting with his or her assets, it has played a vital role towards creating a new Bangalore. Whether the same fate as that of the land owners of Arkavathi Layout befalls land owners of the two new layouts  (Kempe Gowda Layout and Shivram Karanth Layout) ready to roll out in the next one year is a matter that needs to be probed.
According to the BDA, locals who henceforth part with their land for building the new layout will be provided with two options for receiving compensation. They can be awarded a monetary compensation along with a piece of land, at the discretion of the BDA or they can opt for 9,600 square feet of land (four 40x60 sqft sites) for every acre he/she parts with inside the proposed developed layout itself. However, this option comes minus the monetary compensation.

“The proposed compensation in the form of providing the developed sites to the farmers will be given for the first time in the State,” informed a top source.

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