The Times Of India , 6 Dec 2014, Hyderabad: Farmers of 10 villages on the banks of river Krishna, who own about 12,500 acres among themselves, are on a collision course with the TDP government on the issue of parting with the land for the development of the new capital of Andhra Pradesh. Their opposition to the land acquisition move of the state government is expected to flare up on the eve of Singapore minister S Iswaran’s visit to the area on December 8 or 9, with the farmers even ready to stage demonstrations opposing his visit.
Aware of the opposition from these farmers, chief minister Chandrababu Naidu’s plan is to ensure that the issue is settled before Iswaran and Centre for Liveable Cities expert Khoo Teng Chye arrives next week in Hyderabad for talks on building the new capital. The CM had held one round of talks with the pro-capital farmers last week. Now, he wants to persuade the farmers who are unwilling to give up their land to change their mind.
The farmers of the 10 villages — Rayapudi, Lingayapalem, Udhanda Rayanipalem, Mandadam, Venkatapalem, Penumaka, Undavalli, Errabalem, Nidumarru and Maragallu – are, in fact, keen to know the views of the fact finding mission of the National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), headed by MG Devasahayam, economist and former administrator of Chandigarh, before meeting the chief minister. The five-member team, which began its study on Friday, is touring all the 29 villages that will be affected by the land pooling scheme. NAPM is scheduled to hold a round table in Vijayawada on Saturday and address the media on Sunday.
“We want to hear the views of the NAPM fact finding mission first. Then all the farmers of the 10 villages will decide on attending the meeting convened by the chief minister. We have already conveyed to the cabinet subcommittee on land pooling that we do not want to give our land to the capital,” said Mallela Seshagiri Rao, convenor, Federation of Farmers’ Association, which represents these villages.
Rao said that on Thursday, ministers Ravela Kishore Babu, Devineni Umamaheshwara Rao, Prathipati Pulla Rao and speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao tried to convince the farmers to attend a meeting with the CM. But the reluctant farmers have sought two days to decide on the matter. According to him, in the meeting with the ministers, the farmers unequivocally rejected the idea of parting with their property. “It is our land. And the issue involves our lives and our progeny. How can ministers force us to comply with a decision taken in Hyderabad?” the farmers reportedly asked the ministers.
The contention of the villagers is that the government wants to take their land not out of necessity, but out of some vaastu considerations. Charging the TDP government with hiding crucial information about the land pooling, Rao said the 29 villages identified for the capital make up of about 53,000 acres and that the 10 villages in question have 12,500 acres. “In these 10 villages, we grow 120 varieties of crops. Eighty per cent of our people are fully employed in farming activity. No formula, however farmer-centric it is, will compensate for the loss of land,” he said.