Hundreds of farmers in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh staged a protest under the umbrella of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) demanding their “unpaid dues” of Shatabdi Nagar plots on Monday.
The farmers threatened that if their demands are not met, they will soon block the Delhi-Meerut highway. The farmers’ union criticised the government for not being “sensitive towards farmers’ issues’.
The controversy erupted after a 1,000-acre plot—which was a part of a 1,620-acre land—was acquired by the Meerut Development Authority (MDA) from the farmers. The farmers did not allow possession of the remaining land, accusing the MDA of paying low price for the land. The farmers alleged that they have not been paid according to the norms.
An agitator, Anil Chaudhary, whose land was acquired by the authority, told NewsClick, “In 1987, land from five villages was acquired by the MDA and three years letter, rate was decided, which was very low. We started agitating against the administration and the MDA in early 2000s. After meeting with the administration, a final rate was decided—Rs 690 per yard. We were threatened that if we do not give possession of the land, it will be converted into greenland (useless land where no one can do farming, nor can it be used for residential purpose). However, they only paid Rs 480 per yard and assured us to pay the rest of the amount when we give possession of the land. We let them take possession of 1,000 acres, but not the rest because of the remaining balance.”
“As per the new guidelines of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (Land Acquisition Act), the concerned acquisition would be deemed to have lapsed if the compensation was not paid to the land owners in five years, and such land would be returned to the land owners. In our case, it has been over 25 years and the MDA wants to take the land at the old circle rates and sell it at the current rate—which has been exponentially increasing. The land-owner has every right to claim higher compensation,” he added.
The protest comes days after district administration refused to pay higher price to the farmers. “The farmers will have to vacate the land anyhow according to the norms. Their demands cannot be met,” said Meerut district magistrate Anil Dhingra.
Meanwhile, similar protest has been going on in other parts of the region with farmers from Lohia Nagar and Ved Vyas Puri demanding compensation higher than what was granted to them by the MDA.
Leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Vijaypal Ghopla, who is on a hunger strike since five days, told NewsClick, “Both the government and the administration are adopting an anti-farmer policy. The farmer is demanding compensation of the acquired land under the new policy as directed by the Supreme Court, but the government and officers are violating the court's order by not doing so. This has angered the farmers.”