Farmers' protest intensifies

Deve Gowda joins them on Day 4; to continue dharna today

Farmers' protest intensifies

Addressing a gathering of farmers who have started a five-day protest since Wednesday at Hemmigepura near Kengeri here, the former Prime Minister accused the State government of “colluding” with the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) to “rob” the farmers’ lands.

The protesters continued to block the road for the fourth consecutive day. Earlier lending his voice to the struggle at Gonipura, Deve Gowda charged that the Government was “bent upon” ruining the lives of poor farmers by taking away their lands. “The Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) has fixed a mere Rs 88,048 per acre for acquiring our land whereas the current market value for an acre is not less than Rs two crore. Can you expect anyone to part with their lands for such a meagre sum?” said  Bettaiah of Gonipura village on Saturday.

Prema of Lingapura said: “We are forced to work as construction workers. Where should we go with our wards after giving the land for a paltry amount?” said. Emphasising that they would give away their lands only according to the Framework Agreement of April 3, 1997, they charged the State Government with acquiring 5,000 acres of excess land. “The total requirement for the project is 20,193 acres. Then why does the KIADB wants around 25,000 acres of land?” asked another irate farmer.

They Charged Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli with “suppressing facts” in his recent submission before the Supreme Court that the BMIC project was being implemented according to the Outer Development Plan (ODP) of February 12, 2004. Later in the evening, Deputy Commissioners of Bangalore Urban and Ramnagara districts met JD (S) Supremo and promised him to bring the matter to the notice of Chief Minister.

NICE version

Reacting to the protests, NICE spokesperson Manjunath Naikar accused the JD (S) of provoking farmers. “This protest is being carried out by the JD(S) activists who have illegally blocked the road instead of staging their protest at the designated spots,” he told Deccan Herald.

Claiming that the farmers’ protest was initially against the walk over bridge, he said that some “vested interests” had changed its course now. He, however, refused to comment further on the issue as it was sub judice.Meanwhile Gowda said he would continue his dharna on Sunday. He also threatened to launch a hunger strike in the front of the CM’s residence if the latter failed to intervene and took a decision  to implement and execute the project as per the Frame Work Agreement.

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