The land acquisition for the proposed SIPCOT industrial park near here has run into rough weather with local farmers.
The Collector had apparently sent out around 3,200 notices to farmers from the villages of Sivarakkottai, Karisakalampatti and Swamimallampatti, asking them to surrender their lands for the project within 30 days of receipt of notice.
The farmers have expressed shock over this development.
The previous DMK regime proposed the setting up of the SIPCOT industrial parks on 1,479 acres only to ensure the appreciation of land value in the area where the Dhaya College of Engineering, owned by Union Minister M K Alagiri, was located, the farmers alleged. The project was stalled in the wake of a series of protests by farmers’ associations and civil society organisations.
However, the notices issued by the district administration all of a sudden have left the farmers distraught. They said that the land identified for the project was fertile and provided them bountiful returns.
“Our family cultivates cotton, maize, toor dhal and other crops. We earn `30,000 per acre,” said K Chinnasamy (75) from Mesanery, who was on his way to tend to his 10 acre land in Sivarakkottai. “We get three crops in a year with only the rain for irrigation,” he added.
The vast stretch of fields in Sivarakkottai was lush green with various crops, predominantly maize.
Nallakaruppathevar (70) of Karisakalampatti, who also owned 10 acres in his village, put forth a similar argument. “If we reaped such produce with only one shower, imagine the harvest we would get with the continuous monsoon,” he reasoned. Parameswaran (49), another farmer from Sivarakkottai, pointed out that the local farmers didn’t even use pesticides. “The soil here is so rich that we don’t use chemical fertilisers. Most of us use only organic manure,” he said.
Referring to the land acquisition drive, Nallakaruppathevar said, “We do not know any other profession. By deceit, our land is being grabbed.”
Local farmer M Ramalingam, also the president of the Uzhavar Mandram here, has been organising his counterparts against the move. Ramalingam said that he, like other farmers, was “deeply distressed” over the fact that former Collector Mathivanan, in an affidavit to the High Court, had pronounced that fertile land in these three villages were ‘barren’.
“These farms, which produce good crops even with only one spell of rain, were declared barren by the then Collector,” he rued. He pointed out that in 2010-11, the local farmers sold 100 quintals of toor dhal to cooperative societies.
“This is only 10 per cent of the produce,” Ramalingam added. Another farmer asserted, “We will not permit the land to be taken over by destroying the livelihood of thousands of farmers.”
In fact, the farmers from these three villages have suggested that some “fallow” land in the nearby Kallikkudi village, owned by some industrialists, be used for the SIPCOT project instead.