SANGAREDDY: The major problem with the location of the National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) in erstwhile Medak district will be land acquisition. The farmers of the area, who cultivate three crops a year, have refused to part with their land, come what may. They do not want to give up their only means of livelihood and begin life afresh, with no skills in whatever avocation they take up.
For NIMZ, the Telangana government has so far acquired only 2,900 acres as against the total 12,635 acres in the last 10 years on account of protests by farmers and litigation in courts. Acquisition of the remaining 9,000 acres is a daunting task for officials, who do not know how to meet the target.A revenue officer said: “If the government offers a market price, the farmers might come forward to sell their land. Or else, it will be a difficult task to convince them.”
The land to be acquired is spread across 17 villages in Nyalkal and Jharasangam mandals of the Zaheerabad Assembly constituency. Most of those who live in these villages are small farmers and tribals.
At a recent public hearing called by officials for obtaining environmental clearances for setting up NIMZ, some farmers made their stand crystal clear.
“Our land is very fertile. We cultivate three crops a year and all of these are commercial crops, such as sugarcane, ginger, turmeric, mango, guava, sandalwood and leafy vegetables. The government is trying to rob us of our fertile land for the sake of NIMZ. This is not fair,” Jaipal Reddy, a farmer in Nyalkal, said.
Some others are emotionally attached to their land. Soni Bai, a tribal woman-farmer, said: “We are ready to die rather than give up our land, regardless of the price the government offers.”
The farmers seem to have hardened their stand after police used force against them at the public hearing. Informally, officials, too, disapproved of the way police dealt with the farmers. Not only the farmers but the government staff too, who attended the meeting, were questioned by police, who snatched their cell phones, pens and water bottles.
The area that needs to be acquired comprises 8,773 acres of patta land and 3,862 acres of assigned land. Officials have to acquire a swathe of patta land, most of which is small holdings of half to five acres.
Those whose lands have already been acquired said the government has so far paid only Rs 3 lakh to Rs 6 lakh per acre, while the market price is as high as Rs 25 lakh. They might be willing to give up their land if the government comes up with a proposal to allot them land at another location, since they know no other means of livelihood except farming.