Fighting the pro-corporate interests of both the central and the state governments, farmers from the Tiptur town of Tumkur district in Karnataka have been on an indefinite dharna for the past one week. Farmers are on a week-long protest against the needless widening of the NH206 spanning 650 km between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Speaking to Newsclick, Vinay Srinivas of the Alternative Law Forum (ALF), based out of Bangalore, said, “People from one whole taluk have been on an indefinite dharna for the past one week, as their land is being forcefully acquired. There are multiple issues such as that of the alignment and the surveys of the land as well as the overall process. The process, for the locals, is riddled with the lack of transparency and absolutely no accountability from the Centre or the state government.”
The protesting farmers have said that under the National Highways Act, the locals should be compensated four times the market rate, and should be rehabilitated. They should be eligible to be covered under the ambit of the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act of 2013. However, on the ground, people are being given only 1/10th of the value of their lands with the Sub Registrar (SR) ratio.
The market rate in the area is reportedly Rs 60-80 lakhs per acre; however, the government will be paying the farmers the SR rate value – only Rs 1.5 lakh per acre. Many were apprehensive about whether they will receive anything at all from the government.
Speaking to Newsclick, a farmer from the area, Rajendra Patel, said, “My concern with the process is that 80 per cent of my land will be taken away from me if this widening project ends up getting successful. My life depends on this land, and I have no other alternative job or any other means of income. My family’s expense on healthcare also comes to about Rs 3,000 per month. The government is not treating us as humans.”
Farmers in the region are likely to face the brunt of yet another land acquisition, in the Yettinahole area, which is aimed at linking the Western ghats to Bangalore. Vinay adds, “For this project, people lost their farms. For that project, people will end up losing their homes.”
The farmers on the ground feel that the government is deliberately trying to sideline their interests by not giving them fair compensation for the projects to avoid paying to the farmers when the acquisition under the Yettinhole project begins.
Currently, the farmers are all set to intensify their struggle, with students from Bangalore too offering support and campaigning for the farmers’ right to livelihood.
*This is a developing story.
Read more: Are Farmers of Karnataka Being Deceived by False Promises of the Government?