A meeting on ‘Green Field capital for AP, LRR Ordinance’ was organised by the National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM) at the Visakhapatnam Public Library here on Thursday evening.
Agreeing with the suggestions made by Praja Spandana president C.S. Rao, Devasahayam said that a referendum on the issue would be held in all the 13 districts of AP to elicit the opinions of the people. A memorandum would be submitted to the President of India not to allocate any money for the capital project and a Rajadhani Porata Samithi would be formed to take the struggle to the people.
The ‘forcible acquisition’ of fertile agricultural lands, depriving farmers and agricultural workers of their livelihood, came in for severe criticism by the speakers. They wondered as to what was the reason behind the State government dumping the Sivaramakrishnan Committee Report without even a discussion on it and selecting the same area, which was found ‘unsuitable’ by the Committee.
Devasahayam said the Sivaramakrishnan Committee had underlined the need to have a decentralised capital in this age of e-governance and connectivity. “We (NAPM Committee) visited the proposed capital area in December, 2014, and found that the lands chosen for the capital were the most fertile lands in the entire country. The farmers were growing over 100 varieties of crops besides horticulture and floriculture. It is a viable economy with the region contributing Rs.1, 000 cr agribusiness every year,” he said.
He said, “The Chief Minister wants to replicate Singapore, which is a concrete jungle, in the most ‘agrarian state in India’ and destroy the peasant economy in the process”.
He alleged that the State government was violating several guidelines in the land pooling laws and resorting to forcible acquisition of lands by either inducing the farmers or threatening them that they would lose the compensation amounts, if they delay ‘voluntary’ handing over of consent letters.
The speakers felt that though the farmers had given lands under duress they could still take them back and avoid signing the agreement handing over power of attorney to the CRDA (Capital Region Development Authority) as it was vested with absolute powers even to mortgage the lands and raise loans or even cancel the capital project at a latter stage.
NAPM national convener B. Ramakrishnam Raju, former IAS officer EAS Sarma, trade union leader VV Rama Rao and Congress leader Bolisetty Satya, spoke.