Farmers forced to make rounds of the office

Farmers of Yadiki and Peddavadugur mandals of Anantapur district are being pushed to the limit by officials of Penna Ahobilam Balancing Reservoir (PABR) stage-II (land acquisition), located in Anantapur with many being fleeced for money while they remain in almost continuous transit between their villages and the office here.

The government established the PABR-II land acquisition office at Anantapur in February 2005 to acquire land by consent in over 5,000 acres under Chagallu reservoir, Pendekallu balancing reservoir besides the Yadiki branch canal covering Peddapappuru, Singanamala, Pedda Vaduguru and Yadiki mandals of the district. The work was expected to be completed in a period of less than three years, although the officials have yet to acquire 1,000 acres more and compensate the farmers suitably.

Meanwhile, the office has been mired in controversies ever since the inception which also include pumping up the number of acres to be acquired for allegedly ulterior motives besides the continual complaint of fleecing by officials.

A leader, Suryanarayana Reddy, representing the farmers in Peddavadugur mandal told The Hindu that about eighty farmers in the villages of Appecherla, Burnakunta and Bandarlapalli were fleeced at Rs. 10,000 to 15,000 per acre by a superintendent of the department by employing a broker, Jayaramudu, in one of the villages a few years ago. The total amounted to around Rs. 10 lakh.

“When we brought the matter to the notice of the then Minister J.C. Diwakar Reddy, an inquiry was also conducted. But, the farmers were paid back their money overnight and warned of complaining to the inquiry officers, lest they face irate officials the next time they need to deal with them,” said Mr Reddy.

Meanwhile, the farmers in Yadiki mandal also complained that the acquisition of their lands have been kept pending as they were not able to cough up close to 15-20 per cent of the compensation amount they would get, which is currently pegged at Rs. 2 lakh for wetland and Rs. 1.6 lakh for dry land.

“I have been asked to part with Rs. 35,000 if I was to get a suitable compensation, which I paid only to find out that I was not being given any extra premium for my land but only the benchmarked price,” said Venkatramudu (name changed) of Cheemulavagupalli village of Yadiki mandal, who is one of the several farmers suffering at the hands of the officials.

However, the Special Deputy Collector of the PABR stage-II (land acquisition), G.V. Venkatesam, denied any such allegations saying that he had not received any complaints and that he would take immediate action if he were to get such complaints even as he said that the entire land acquisition process has been protracted due to the sharp increase in land prices which were not in consonance with the government’s ceiling for the acquisition.