TIRUVANNAMALAI: With land acquisition for the Chennai-Salem Expressway underway, farmers in Tiruvannamalai district are a worried lot. Approximately 95 per cent of lands that would be acquired for the project is farmland.
Dhayananda, a fourth generation farmer at Alathur in Chengam taluk, says, “My day begins with me looking at the farm and ends the same way.” The other farmers echoed his sentiments and said that their land was like a family to them and now is under threat.
The proposed project covers five districts - Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamalai, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and Salem and could destroy reserved forests, agriculture lands, wells and borewells. When the farmers heard about the project, they were disheartened.
“I would rather die than give my land to built roads. This is my life and agriculture is the only occupation I know. What is the rationale behind destroying farmlands that provides food and helps sustain life?” questioned Ananthasekar, a farmer who cultivates sugarcane, rice and groundnuts. Nearly five hectares of his agriculture land and his house could be lost to the project.
Stating that it would be insensitive and cruel to not pay heed to the pleas of the farmers, especially when their livelihoods are at stake, another farmer said that the recent developments in the project only seem to be causing more harm. “The State has also claimed to provide compensation for the lands, but we do not need compensation. Even if the government is ready to give crores, we don’t want it. We need our lands,” said Tamilarasi (48), another farmer.
For this 54-year-old farmer from Alathur, nearly 1.5 hectares, a well and his house will be taken away. Chinnayan cultivates sugarcane, groundnuts and paddy. “Many labourers depend on me for work. If these lands are taken away, they will become unemployed,” lamented Chinnayan. Stating that Tiruvannamalai is ranked second in rice production and third in sugarcane production in the State, C Alagesan questioned during the farmers grievance meeting if the State will be able to produce this much if their lands are taken away, adding that production of coconut, groundnuts, sugarcane, paddy, etc. will be severely affected.
“If the State and Central government take away our lands, we will set ourselves ablaze,” said another dejected farmer.
Tiruvannamalai will be the worst affected if the Chennai-Salem Greenfield Highway project is implemented
A total of 1,306 hectares, out of the total 2,791 hectares, will be acquired in the district alone
A notification has been published by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in official Gazette under section 3A (right to acquire land) of the National Highways Act, 1956
The notification was published on June 11, which provides for affected people an opportunity to file their objections within 21 days. This implies, only 10 days are now left to file objections
The objections should be forwarded in writing to Special District Revenue Officer (Land Acquisition), National Highways, Villupuram
95 per cent of the total land intended to be acquired has been described as ‘dry’, which are actually agricultural farms
A total of 7,237 titles will be affected