The farmers and residents of six village panchayats in the Coimbatore district are up in arms against the proposed industrial park in the region. The Tamil Nadu Industries Development Corporation (TIDCO) is expediting the project, which requires 3,800 acres of land.
With agriculture and cattle farming being the primary sources of income in around 50 hamlets of the panchayats, the announcement of land acquisition has irked both farmers and residents. No public hearing was held before announcing the project, the leaders of farmers unions claimed while raising concerns about air and water pollution in the region.
The coordination committee of the residents and farmers have held several protests including a two wheeler rally and mass representation to district collector. Of the six village panchayats, five passed resolutions against the proposed industrial park on October 2 and the residents hoisted black flags. The farmers have called for a conference in Mettupalayam during the second week of November to save their lands.
IMPACT ON FARMERS WILL BE HIGH
Coimbatore being an industrial district has several industrial parks and corridors housing thousands of small and medium enterprises. But, the proposal of the new park in Mettupalayam and Annur taluks has hit a roadblock as the farmers and residents have opposed the move.
The park is spread across Akkaraisengampalli, Kuppanur, Pogalur and Vadakkalur villages in Annur taluk, and Iluppanatham and Bellepalayam villages in Mettupalayam taluk.
"We came to know about the part through a newspaper. There was no consultation with the farmers or the residents in the region", said Venugopal, general secretary of Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, a farmers association.
"The authorities initially claimed that 80% of the 3,800 acres (1,557.33 hectares) required for the park belong to private companies, which is false. Only 20% of them belongs to private companies and the remaining are farmlands and land used for cattle farming,” he said.
A TIDCO notification has categorised 1,500 hectares as drylands, which are identified for the industrial park. But the farmers refute the claim.
"Apart from rainfed crops, these lands are used for cattle grazing by a large number of cattle growers. In fact, a considerable part of the population depends on cattle farming in the six village panchayats,” said Venugopal.
STOP LAND ACQUISITION
The details of land to be acquired for the park was released on August 16, much to the dismay of the stakeholders.
"Most of the people residing in the area who were notified are small and marginal farmers. There are thousands of coconut trees that would be removed for the project. Around 50,000 people dependent directly and indirectly on farming and allied sectors will be affected," said Venugopal.
After passing resolutions at the Gram Sabha meetings, the residents hoisted black flags as a mark of protest. A protest was held on October 20 in Annur and petitions were submitted to the Tehsildhar against the land acquisition.
Photo: Petitions being submitted to Annur Tahsildhar against the proposed industrial park.
On October 23, the farmers and residents took out a two-wheeler rally across all the hamlets being included for land acquisition.
Photo: Farmers and a large number of women participated in the two-wheeler rally.
MASS REPRESENTATION TO COLLECTOR
The farmers and residents submitted petitions to the Coimbatore district collector on October 29 on the farmers’ grievances.
Photo: Hundreds of farmers and residents gathered at the Coimbatore district collector’s office against the industrial park.
"We have submitted individual representations to the district collector, with details of our apprehensions on the land acquisition announcement. This project will affect the environment as other industrial parks have done in Coimbatore,” Venugopal added.
Photo: A resident submitting the petition to the district collector, Coimbatore.
"We were expecting the Athikadavu-Avinashi project to improve the prospects of farming for a better life. But, this announcement about the industrial park has crushed all our expectations," Venugopal said.
The farmers are using drip irrigation from borewells to irrigate the crops. The acquisition of land will lead to the loss of grazing lands for the cattle. Several people's representatives from both the ruling and opposition parties have extended support for the cause of the farmers.
"The government should scrap the plan for the industrial park and help the farmers improve productivity in the region and help farming flourish," Venugopal demanded.