Sunday, August 22, 2010

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Farmers meeting on land grabbing in Tappal U.P - the government has been warned


Tappal U.P, 20th Aug: A massive Kisan Panchayat (Farmers Meeting) led by BKU (Bhartiya Kisan Union) was held on the 20th in Tappal village (near Aligarh) in U.P. This was the culmination of the ongoing farmers protests in UP over unfair land acquisition by the government for the Jaypee industries destined for the Yamuna Expressway as well as the construction of a township and other private real estate development. The main and urgent demand of the farmers was to increase the rate of compensation from the originally stipulated Rs 470 Rs per square meter to 880 Rs per Sq meter which was the same rate given to farmers during the construction of Greater Noida near Delhi. More than 15,000 farmers attended the panchanyat and others arrived from across the country. The general secretary of the Congress Party Mr Rahul Gandhi also arrived at the meeting site and assured the farmers that the congress party was on the side of the farmers just struggle. Mr Digvijay Singh, the chief minister of M.P. also attended and assured the same.

Mr Tikait, as the leader of BKU has warned the government that "if the government continues to play the role of a "broker" or property dealer between private industries and farmers then they will have to face the retaliation and discontent of the farmers." He further urged the farmers and warned the government that " Unless farmers demands are taken into consideration, they will not let the Yamuna expressway work carry on in U.P". In the U.P case they had stipulated a price of around 450 per sq meter as compensation to the farmers while they were further going to sell off the land for about 6000 Rs per sq feet. The farmers clarified that they were not against land acquitted for highway construction and other public oriented reasons.However the forcible land grabbing at unjust rates will not be tolerated for the construction of farm houses, malls and other useless reasons or what the farmers call the colonization of the countryside. Furthermore there needs to be a permanent ban on the acquisition of fertile agricultural land for anything but agriculture. The government should stop trying to play mediator for the private industries and that too using violence and the state security forces.

Farmers contended that the latent Land Acquisition Bill first tabled in 2007 needs to be turned into a legislation that will represent the farmers interests. Farmers organizations and peoples movements need to be involved in the rewriting of this bill. The Aligarh protests that resulted in the death of 3 people is not an isolated case, already many land grabbing related violent protests have broken out in the past in Noida where 6 farmers died, then the brutal repression of peasants in Singur are just a few to mention. In order to tackle this problem and unfair grabbing of community lands there needs to be a comprehensive legislation across the nation and on which is formulated with ample involvement and participation of farmers, tribals and others whose land is being grabbed. A commission should also be set up that will ensure that the rights of India's people are not stepped over and their redresses are addressed in such cases. In its current form the Land acquisition bill facilitates giving over land to big corporations for mining, dams, SEZs.

Taking farmers land away from them is a serious crime against humanity. On the one hand it threatens the livelihoods and sustenance of people who depend on the land. On the other hand it condemns many to hunger and destitution. In a country where hunger and poverty are rising social disasters, using land for anything else but growing food and putting farmers at an existential insecurity is unethical and unacceptable to the farmers movements.

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