Farmers have strongly opposed the acquisition of fertile land near the GMIT College campus and at Bathi village for creating residential layouts for the poor.

At a special meeting of farmers and officials of the Davangere Urban Development Authority (DUDA) here on Friday, the farmers said they had been farming the land for long and agriculture was the only occupation they knew. “It is inhuman to acquire our land and render us jobless,” they said, adding that they were prepared to lay down their lives to protect their property.

Farmers Kotrabasappa, Tejasvi Patel, Mahantesh and Anjanappa are among those who oppose the land acquisition. They wondered why DUDA was keen on acquiring the land near GMIT College, which is headed by Davangere MP G.M. Siddeshwar. They alleged that DUDA was trying to acquire the land because of pressure from the MP.

Deputy Commissioner K. Amaranarayana, who convened the meeting, said DUDA wanted to give sites to the landless poor as thousands of applications were pending with it. He said it was impossible for any development to take place without land acquisition.

He said the Government had fixed an amount of Rs. 5 lakh an acre as compensation and added that the amount was not small. He said the farmers would be given back a certain portion of their land after the layouts were developed which they could use or even sell.

The farmers told him that they had been cultivating long-term crops on the land and that it was not sensible for them to part with the property. They said they would convey their opposition to the project in writing. They asked the administration to acquire land in other areas such as Shiramagondanahalli (where district in-charge Minister S.A. Ravindranath is from) instead.

Mr. Amaranarayana tried in vain to convince them to sell the land, but with little success. Later, chairman of DUDA Yashwantha Rao said he too had sacrificed some of his land some years ago and asked the agitated farmers to calm down. Irritated by his remark, the farmers lambasted him saying they would not have opposed sale of the land if they were not fertile.

The farmers said that DUDA, the Karnataka Housing Board, the Rajiv Gandhi Housing Corporation and many civic bodies had been acquiring land left, right and centre, leaving farmers in distress. They wondered what the state of agriculture would be if all agricultural land used for other purposes.

Nothing constructive, however, came of the meeting, which ended abruptly.