A couple of years ago, a slew of farmers’ agitations drew attention to the acquisition of fertile land for industrial or residential purposes. However, this has not translated into an election issue.
While farmers haven’t raised the issue, some politicians contesting the Assembly elections themselves own land or are associated with developers.
The changing landscape of the outskirts of Mysore is proof of the large-scale conversion of agricultural land, especially along the Mysore-H.D. Kote road, Mysore–T. Narsipur road, Mysore–Bannur road and Mysore-Hunsur road.
Venkatesh, a resident of Karkanahalli near Yelwal, claims the local people own only around half the land in the village. “The rest has been purchased in bulk by the developer.”
“Farmers are now working as landless daily wagers on the same land, having squandered the money that changed hands in the land deal,” he says. “Yet, there are still others who are prepared to sell their land to tide over personal problems.” Most of the land here was sold at Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 2 lakh an acre.
A short distance away at Yelchanahalli, around 75 per cent of farmers have sold their land.
At Halladamanuganahalli, about 20 km from Mysore, nearly 3,000 acres were marked for acquisition, fuelling an agitation. But this has petered out.
At Kochanahalli in Varuna constituency, the entire village was promised “employment for life” by real estate developers who procured over 600 acres at Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 1 lakh an acre. The land, irrigated by the Varuna canal, was acquired ostensibly for a golf course, but has since changed hands. Locals point out that it has been acquired by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) at Rs. 25 lakh an acre.
Shivamurthy, a farmer who sold 15 acres for a pittance, regrets his decision, but maintains that circumstances forced him to sell the land.
Trade unions and various farmers’ organisations did take up the issue, but not politicians.
The land-losers approached a prominent leader in the region who is contesting the elections, but were rebuffed by him saying: “Did you ask me before selling the land ?”