The hype over the grandiose plans for the new capital of Andhra Pradesh is eclipsed by the determined fight being put up by a few hundred farmers who refuse to part with their landholdings.

Out of 29 villages that are part of the 33,000-acre layout of the proposed capital city, three villages of Undavalli, Penumaka and Nidamarru stand out in more ways than one. These villages at the heart of the new city vital for commencing the work as planned. They hold very fertile farmlands and are the main suppliers of fruits and vegetables to Vijayawada.

No to land pooling Almost half of the farmers who own 2,000 acres of land in these villages have not yet joined the land pooling scheme, while nearly 30,000 acres have been acquired by the government.

“Right from the first day of the call for land pooling, we have been demanding complete clarity on what is in store for us if we give our lands. But nobody could give us a convincing answer so far,” said KC Reddy, who owns four acres of land in Undavalli.

The Form 95 agreement which lists out various aspects of the land poling offers no clarity on plotting and its location, said M Kotireddy, a farmer with a post-graduation in Physics.

“It has 25 points and all are in futuristic terms with no immediate promises. When we give our lands, is it wrong to expect legally binding assurance from government? What happens if next government ignores these promises?’’ he questions.

Many other farmers such as Narsinga Rao from Nidamarru also find bumps in the capital plan as they are not clear about allotments to farmers who have good (Jarib) lands and not so good (Metta) lands.

Official pressure Some farmers allege harassment by officials of the revenue department, Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) and the police. “When I tried to mobilise farmers, I was summoned to Tadepalli police station and was threatened,” Koti Reddy said.

Farmers in Penumaka are also worried as the officials are going ahead with markings for construction on the lands that have not been given so far.

There are concerns that conversion of agricultural land in these villages might upset fruit and vegetable supply. The banana plantations are now being destroyed and there has been 50 per cent dip in the onion and vegetable output in the last one year, according to locals.

Official version The CRDA, however, has a different view. “There has been no pressure of any kind and we are in regular dialogue with farmers of these villages,’’ said a senior official. The promised plotting of lands which have already been taken will begin shortly, he added.

But there may be more trouble in store for government as the farmers plan to move court if the Land Acquisition Act is applied to acquire the lands forcibly.

social-fb COMMENT NOW