Pharma City: Farmers to protest land acquisition

Farmers in Yacharam mandal to stage \'Maha Padayatra\' to protest land acquisition for pharma project

Hyderabad: Farmers from Ranga Reddy district are up in arms against the state government for the "forcible acquisition" of land for the Hyderabad Pharma City project, days after Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao unveiled his party's new incarnation of BRS with the campaign slogan 'Ab ki baar kisan sarkar.’

Farmers, villagers and sarpanches from four villages in Yacharam mandal, have decided to stage a 'maha padayatra' on December 27 and 28, accusing the state government of failing to compensate them fairly and violating the Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) Act, 2013 while forcibly taking land for what is billed as the world's largest pharmaceuticals industrial park.

Farmers argue that whereas an acre on the open market sells for more than Rs 1 crore, the government was paying only Rs 16 lakh in compensation. As part of the project, the government planned to acquire 9,851 acres of assigned land in four villages in Yacharam — Nakkartha Medipally, Thatiparthy, Nanaknagar and Kurmidda —with revenue officials claiming that the government had acquired 7,640 acres and that the remaining nearly 2,211 acres would be acquired soon.

Farmers with patta lands covering an area of 2,211 acres are refusing to give up their land parcels, raising objections to the Rs 16 lakh compensation offered per acre, and claiming that the market worth exceeds Rs 1 crore per acre. They also claim that even if relocate 200 kilometres away from Yacharam, they will be unable to purchase property at Rs 16 lakh per acre. Despite the opposition from farmers, the officials passed the award to acquire land for 1,966 acres by depositing compensation amount with the special judicial authority court.

"The maha padayatra will have thousands of farmers and villagers going from Nakkartha Medipally to the Ibrahimpatnam RDO in Turkayamjal. Local leaders cutting across party lines were invited for this padayatra. Sarpanches, MPTCs, ZPTCs, and mandal parishad presidents from all parties have extended support for the padayatra," said B.Rajashekar Reddy, sarpanch of Kurmidda, and leader of the joint action committee (JAC) opposing the Pharma City land acquisition.

Ibrahimpatnam revenue divisional officer (RDO) E.Venkata Chary stated that land acquisition was nearing completion and that the land would be handed to the TS Industrial and Infrastructure Corporation (TSIIC). "Of the 9,851 acres of land identified for the project, there are court cases pertaining to 245 acres of patta lands. The compensation amount of disputed land has been deposited in the special judicial authority court. The compensation will be provided in accordance with the authority's orders,” the RDO said.

Revenue officials contended that the land acquisition process began in 2015 at the market rates existing at that time, and therefore farmers should not demand compensation at current market rates.

The TS government announced its plans to build the Pharma City nine months after the UPA government's Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) Act, 2013, was notified on January 1, 2014. The Centre's Act stipulated that persons whose land was acquired should be compensated at four times the market price of land in rural areas and two times the market price in urban areas apart for compensating for loss of livelihood.

Since land is a state subject, states have the power to make their own rules for its implementation. In 2015, the Telangana government provided for compensation equal to three times the market price of land. However, it did not revise the market price for seven years.

The market values revised in 2013 by the Kiran Kumar Reddy-led Congress government were in effect in Telangana until July 2021 and were only changed in February last. These increased rates do not apply to the Pharma City land because the acquisition notification and process began in 2015.

According to government guidelines in undivided AP, the market value of lands must be revised once a year in urban areas and twice a year in rural areas. The Telangana government did not follow these guidelines.

At one point, officials arbitrarily deleted farmers’ ownership rights on these land parcels from the Dharani portal and registered them in the name of the TSIIC. A few farmers challenged the government’s move in the Telangana High Court. Following court orders, officials restored farmers' ownership rights over 350 acres in Dharani portal.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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