G'barga farmers resist govt land takeover bid

Ex-DC had recommended against acquiring 1,515 acres for thermal plant

Braving the stiff opposition from the farmers, the Government has invoked the emergency clause of the Land Acquisition Act to acquire the land for its ambitious 1,320-MW coal-based thermal power station.

The farmers of Honnakiranagi, Nadisinnur, and Ferozabad have been on the warpath ever since the State issued the notification to acquire the land for 2X660 MW thermal unit which the State is eager to commission by March 2012. There have been widespread protests by the farmers against the acquisition of fertile land in the region known for its super quality red gram (tur), jowar, Bengal gram and other crops.

District in-charge minister Laxman Savadi had asked the deputy commissioner to find alternative land for the thermal plant. However, the suggestion of the minister and the recommendation of then Deputy Commissioner K S Satyamurthy have been steamrolled by the Government determined to acquire the land.

Farmers, led by former Labour minister S K Kantha, former deputy chairman of the State Legislative Council B R Patil and a number of farmers’ associations, have staged a series of agitations. Deputy Commissioner Dr R Vishal is apparently under tremendous pressure to execute the Government’s decision.

The State seems to be resorting to any means to quell the farmers’ agitations. Recently, five persons, including four farmers, were arrested when they opposed the officers’ attempts to survey the land. They were booked under various provisions of the IPC, including 307 for attempt to murder.

Indefinite fast

Two farmers launched an indefinite fast in jail and when their condition deteriorated they were taken to hospital handcuffed! The high-handedness of the police and the district administration in scuttling the farmers’ agitation has evoked widespread resentment in the region.

In his letter dated September 3, 2009 K S Satyamurthy had clearly stated that the land under acquisition adjoining the Gulbarga-Bangalore State highway is fertile with black cotton soil and famous for cultivating tur and jowar.  “It will be difficult to acquire the land as it is fertile and also there is stiff opposition from land-holders,” Satyamurthy stated.

Resolutions

Kantha wondered how the DC’s recommendation could be bulldozed. He said both Ferozabad and Honnakiranagi Gram Panchayats too have passed resolutions against the acquisition of the fertile land.

The land notified for acquisition in all the three villages produce on an average six quintal of tur per acre, eight quintal of bengal gram and 10 quintal jowar.  “I have 10 acres of land and I earn Rs 1.8 lakh for 60 quintals at the very conservative rate of Rs 3,000 per quintal,” said Basavaraj of Honnakiranagi.

This season, the tur price went as high as Rs 5,000 a quintal and the earning would be Rs three lakh. Moreover, the people here are dependent on agriculture only for their livelihood.

Though the Government has promised Rs 7.5 lakh per acre, there is no commitment on providing job for a member of the family which loses land. Hence, if the land is acquired the next generation will be totally alienated from their land.  

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