VISAKHAPATNAM: Civic society organisations in Andhra Pradesh are planning to launch a state-wide agitation against the state government’s ‘unilateral’ decision to go ahead with land pooling system for construction of the new capital city. The activists are planning to bring civic rights activists of national stature to garner support form the society.
The National Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM) is planning to invite activists including Anna Hazare and Medha Patakar to the capital region to inspire the farmers and to protect the interests of farmers. The farmers who own agricultural fields along the banks of river Krishna are reluctant to hand over their land for the construction of the capital city because they feel it will deprive them of their livelihood.
Addressing a round-table of social activists and environmentalists on the capital region development here Thursday, NAPM convener (AP) B Ramakrishnam Raju said that Anna Hazare was planning a larger movement with farmers across the country against the amendments to the Land Acquisition Ordinance, by touring all the states and he has agreed to visit the new capital area of Andhra.
“Nobody is opposing construction of the new capital, but we cannot allow the state government to act as per its whims and fancies, without maintaining any transparency in land pooling. The government cannot pool the land without consulting the stakeholders including political parties. Moreover, what is the rationale behind pooling 30,000 acres for the capital city,” he asked.
Former IAS officer and administrative officer of Chandigarh capital project MG Devasahayam said that the land pooling scheme had no legal sanctity and was uncalled for, as it poses a serious threat to India’s food security. He termed the land pooling ownership certificate (LOPC) promised by the state government to the farmers/land owners in the capital region as a document without legal sanctity and nothing is lost until the farmers sign the development agreement/irrevocable power of attorney (DA/PoA).
“The farmers gave their consent letters as they were under pressure from the government authorities, who threatened to acquire the lands by hook or crook. However, the government has no right to take over the land until the farmers sign DA/PoA,” he said.
He suggested that the government should abandon the land pooling programme and instead, build an administration capital in about 5,000-6,000 acre as recommended by the Sivaramakrishnan Committee constituted by the Central government, as per the AP Reorganisation Act.
“There is another option where the government should issue a buy-back-bond for `1 lakh per square yard to farmers who are losing their land with state guarantee and underwritten by the Central government, redeemable on expiry of five years from the date of signing the DA/PoA,” he proposed.
Former IAS officer and environmentalist EAS Sarma stated that the cost for construction of the new capital is estimated to be `3 lakh crore and demanded to know as to where the government plans to pool the funds from when the Centre itself failed to allot any funds for the purpose.
“The answer is simple. The state government is raising the curtains for a major real estate project through handing over the capital construction project to private companies. This would lead to regional disparities, as funds meant for the development of north Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions would be diverted to the capital region.”
He also alleged that over `4,000 crore had been already exchanged through real estate transactions in the capital region so far.
Prajaspandana president CS Rao felt that the government does not require such large tracts of land for constructing new capital and wanted the government to release a detailed plan before taking further steps. “Singapore is a small city-country and is not competent to give suggestions for construction of the capital for a state like Andhra Pradesh,” he opined.
Congress leader Bolisetty Satya pointed out that it took 60 years for construction of Chandigarh, the first green field capital in India and it was constructed in less than 15,000 acre but still has 11 lakh population.
Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University (DSNLU) former vice-chancellor Y Satyanarayana, VV Rama Rao of Visakhapatnam Port Trust and PV Ramana of Struggle Committee Against Priv atisation also spoke.