“Attempt to acquire fertile land against the will of the farmers amounted to grave human rights violation”

Farmers of Sivarakottai on Tuesday registered their protest against the State Government’s proposal to acquire around 1,500 acres of land for setting up an industrial estate covering the villages of Sivarakottai, Swamimallampatti and Karisalkampatti.

At a public hearing organised by the district administration, two women said that they would prefer to give up their lives, but not their farms which are their main source of livelihood.

"Whatever compensation you give may last for two years. After that what will we do for our livelihood?" a woman asked Collector Anshul Mishra.

The Collector found it hard to convince them that the villagers would be employed in the factory that would be set up in the SIPCOT industrial estate.

"A similar promise was made when the Kappalur industrial estate was established in the past but it was not honoured. You can acquire the dry tract of land near our farm for the factory and still give us jobs," the woman countered.

Many farmers said that despite the failure of two consecutive monsoons, rain-fed agriculture was going on in Sivarakottai.

Instead of acquiring fertile land, the district administration should try to take possession of the vast tract of barren land near Sivarakottai that has been left uncultivated for more than two decades. M. Ramalingam, secretary of Madurai District Farmers’ Welfare Association, said that some politically influential persons, who have fallow land near Sivarakottai, were trying to promote the industrial estate to further their interests.

A farmer, Krishna, said that the attempt to acquire fertile land against the will of the farmers amounted to a grave human rights violation.

Another recalled that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had promised during the 2011 Assembly election that it would give up the DMK’s proposal to acquire the land.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has said that projects should be formulated for the welfare of the people and no project should be thrust upon them, another farmer said.

The Collector said the views of the farmers would be sent to the State Government.

He assured the farmers that only fallow land would be acquired and that the farmers would be duly compensated.

They could also approach the court if they felt that they were not adequately compensated, he added.

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