As Karunakaracheri, Annambedu, Ramapuram and Thandarai, in Tiruvallur district, are in close proximity to the Outer Ring Road, the farmers in these villages are likely to lose their lush green fields.
Around 100 acres are to be acquired for a truck yard abutting the Rs. 1,081-crore project near Ramapuram as decided in the second master plan for the Chennai metropolitan area.
“Even in this heat our fields have enough water, thanks to the borewells and the well-maintained water courses and channels that are cleaned every year in the 100-day employment scheme of the Central government. The government should choose some other piece of dry land for the project. Already a large tract of land has been lost for the road,” said V. Bakthavatsalam, president of the Karunakaracheri panchayat.
When the tahsildar and revenue department officials went to the villages on Wednesday, the farmers vehemently opposed the project. K. Madhiazhagan, who is from Thandarai but owns lands in Karunakaracheri, said the farmers did not want compensation as they do not want to give up the land. “They are promising us only a few lakhs for the land . For an acre, I will be paid Rs. 7 lakh, which if deposited in the bank will be hardly enough to meet our needs. We cannot buy land elsewhere with this money either,” he said.
According to R. M. Varadhan, a consumer activist and farmer, at least 1,000 families would be affected by the proposal. “Many of the farmers’ children are educated but inevitably they come back to work on the farms. Many boys who are educated prefer to run poultry farms and help their fathers rather than work in the city for Rs. 6,000. Not only farmers but agricultural labourers who wholly depend on the farming in this area would be affected,” he said.
Friends Bhamavathy and Neela, two elderly women, depend on the farms in the area for their survival. “We carry about 50 bundles of greens everyday and sell them in areas including Thiruninravur and Avadi. We give Rs. 2 – Rs. 4 to the farmer and the rest we take. Our children turn us away if we go ask them for food. We would die without these farmers,” said a worried Bhamavathy.
Sources in the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority said the truck terminal had been envisaged in the second master plan and once the road is opened to traffic officially, hundreds of trucks would use the facility. “Trucks from the Grand Southern Trunk Road would be diverted through this road and we need facilities for these vehicles and their drivers and cleaners,” said a source. Around 17.05 hectares are to be acquired from Karunakaracheri and 25.41 hectares from Annambedu for the project.
The 30-km long first phase of ORR runs from Vandalur in the south to Nemilicherry in the west. The CMDA is responsible for acquiring land on behalf of the Tamil Nadu Road Development Company, which is implementing the project.