June 04, 2023

United Farmers’ Movement Paves the Way

Pushpendra Tyagi

UNDER the leadership of the All India Kisan Sabha, the ongoing farmers' movement of Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh has been successful in instilling renewed faith in the united struggle of farmers and landless farm workers. What started on April 25, 2023 in Greater Noida, has now entered its 36th day with support among farmers increasing every day. Over the course of this past month, the agitation has sustained itself day and night against the Greater Noida Development Authority, with large and equal mobilisation of both men and women.  Big processions were taken out on April 25, May 2 and May 15, with support swelling with each protest march. On May 8, an impressive demonstration was conducted with protesters tying black bands, on May 19, women farmers took the center stage, and on May 22 the dharna was dedicated to landless farmers. The long and colourful tractor parade and public meeting thereafter organised on May 28, made a huge impact within the villages and the farmer community of Greater Noida. Kisan Sabha general secretary Vijoo Krishnan, vice president Hannan Mollah, finance secretary P Krishnaprasad and CKC member Manoj Kumar addressed farmers on various occasions of the movement.

National leader of democratic movement Brinda Karat, AIDWA general secretary Mariam Dhawale and Rajya Sabha MP and AIAWU joint secretary V Sivadasan expressed solidarity by addressing protesters at the dharna site.


The origin of this movement lies in the acquisition of farmers' land by the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA). Located along the east bank of the Yamuna river, the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority, set up in 1976 became what we know today as NOIDA. Fifteen years later, in 1991, Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority was established with the public purpose of planned industrial development and 124 villages were notified under it. The acquisition of land began in 1991 under the 1894 British Raj Land Acquisition Act, and with it began its far-reaching impacts on the farmers and landless workers of the region. The first and successful agitation against the meagre compensation fixed by the Authority took place within a year in 1992, under the leadership of Comrade Sardaram Bhati.

Situated between the now barely recognisable Hindon river and the Delhi Howrah rail line, 49 villages in the Greater Noida area have so far been acquired in different phases. These villages are called affected villages. Until the introduction of the new Land Acquisition Act in 2013, there had been several farmers' agitations, some of which had turned violent. In the forefront were farmers who felt cheated after losing their land in lieu of less compensation and in absence of any other benefit.  Share in the declared purpose of development announced by the authority, employment, developed plots, residential areas, lease-back of acquired residential land, specific farmer quotas, residential plots for the landless, rehabilitation and so on came to the fore as new forms of challenges for the farming community. The issue of 10 per cent developed plot land had come to the fore in 1997 itself, and the movement that took place then was successful in increasing the rates of compensation.

After the implementation of the new Land Acquisition Act in January 2014, some of the important issues that affected farmers have come as provisions under the new act and the fight began to implement these provisions. Along with this, farmers also got success in courts on some issues. It was supposed to benefit all affected people, but the government and the Authority did not allow this to happen. The issues of 10 per cent developed plot and 40 square metre plot to the landless are some such issues. As per the provisions of the new law, the compensation for land acquired should be four times of the prevailing circle rate in villages and two times in urban areas. In an appalling attempt to stop this from happening, the Authority changed the compensation condition by abolishing panchayats in the villages. On the other hand, after 2014, the circle rate has not been increased in the villages. Now, what is happening is that the authority is giving Rs 4125 per square metre to the farmers and selling the developed land at the rate of Rs 72,000 per square metre to the private players through auction.


Mobilising farmers who were fed up with the arbitrary, bureaucratic and insulting attitude of the government and the Authority, the All India Kisan Sabha along with other small farmer groups and organisations of the region took part in protest dharnas and demonstrations held from time to time.  Dr Rupesh Verma, a popular leader of the Kisan Sabha in the area, has from time to time raised the issue of the affected farmers and the landless along with his colleagues and organised a protest demonstration on December 23, 2019.

The movement started again but due to restrictions imposed during Covid-19 pandemic this initiative could not move forward. The Authority on the other hand, turned this aapada (disaster) into an avsar (opportunity) and put the farmers' issues on the backburner. Some decisions and provisions were secretly abolished. Sending bulldozers to villages for demolition and imposing baseless penalties on the farmers, and the lack of respectable treatment in the GRENO office has increased the restlessness of the farmers who are troubled by this corrupt attitude of the Authority.

In such a situation, in February 2023, the Kisan Sabha approached the villagers and decided to restart the movement. Well attended dharnas were organised on February 7, March 14 and March 23. After every demonstration, several rounds of discussions with the farming community of neighbouring and affected villages were undertaken by AIKS leaders.  Farmers' participation in these increased equally. Subsequently, a motorcycle rally was taken out on April 23 and from April 25 an indefinite day-night dharna in front of the Authority office was announced.

The biggest achievement of this movement so far is the ever-increasing active participation of women and instilling confidence within the affected farmers, the landless and common people of the region to come together and fight unitedly. This movement is not a spontaneous movement in which the Kisan Sabha intervened, rather it is a movement based on identifying issues and one that has been organised and shaped step-by-step by the Kisan Sabha. Its strength lies in the continuous on-ground initiative taken within the villages through the committees of the Kisan Sabha. Conscious efforts are being made to unite and put the demands of the landless to the fore.


In its small and local form, this movement is taking inspiration from the historic farmers’ movement held in Delhi. This united character of the movement in Greater Noida is the first of its kind in the area and it possesses the ability to take a wider form and go further.

In order to make it widespread, initiatives need to be taken towards mobilising solidarity of other farmers' organisations apart from other mass organisations. This movement has kept open the path of dialogue and discussion with the Authority, government and people's representatives. During this, talks have been held with the Authority's chairman, chief executive officer, local MLA, Rajya Sabha MP, district magistrate, police commissioner regarding the issues and demands of the ongoing movement, which has however not yielded any positive result so far. A memorandum has also been given to the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The movement till now has been completely disciplined and non-violent. One month's experience has shown that this method is the strength of this movement. In the coming days, along with increasing the mobilisation of farmers and landless people at the protest site, a special day of unemployed youth has been announced for June 2, and a Ghera Dalo, Dera Dalo protest on June 6.