Farmers Resent Forcible Land Acquisition for Bangalore-Chennai Expressway
THE land acquisition process for Bangalore-Chennai Expressway project stands a testimony to the government’s neglect of the interests of the farmers and other stakeholders in the backdrop of globalisation and economic liberalisation policies. In three talukas of Kolar district and one taluka of Bengaluru Rural district in Karnataka, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is rushing for acquiring lands in an authoritarian way. Hundreds of farmers staged a protest in front of the deputy commissioner’s office in Kolar on June 6, condemning the forcible land acquisition for the project without following due procedures and demanding proper compensation for the land. The district unit of Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha (KPRS) and the Affected Farmers’ Struggle Committee jointly organised the protest. The protesters said agricultural lands are being acquired without giving any notice to the farmers. As many as 3,700 acres of land was acquired by the authorities concerned in Malur, Bangarpet and Mulbagal talukas and the farmers who lost the land were directed to approach land acquisition office with land documents in order to get compensation. It is to be noted here that except for a newspaper announcement regarding the land acquisition, there was no other official intimation to the owners of the land. The government has invoked provisions of the old land acquisition act, instead of relatively land-owner and farmer-friendly act of 2013, for acquiring land for the expressway project. The project is being implemented for the convenience of corporate companies in general and Japanese companies in particular which are being coming up in Kolar and other surrounding places of Karnataka’s capital Bengaluru. The protesting farmers raised slogans against the Centre for not taking the people who have to part away with their land into confidence. While 1,200 acres of land was acquired in Malur taluka, the quantum in Bangarpet taluka was 1,300 acres and in KGF Assembly constituency, it was 1,200 acres. The protesters also questioned the need of another highway while there was already NH-75 passing through the district. “We are not against the development. But it should not be at the cost of farmers and fertile agricultural land,” G C Bayya Reddy, state vice president of KPRS, said. “Acquiring land without discussing with the farmers is un-civilised and authoritarian action,” he said. The deputy commissioner of Kolar, who received a memorandum from the protesters, assured them that taluk-wise teams would be formed to look into the documents of land to be acquired for the project. He also said a meeting with NHAI would be arranged to clear the doubts in the minds of the people about the project.