R. Krishna Kumar

A sense of insecurity prevails among people in Chamalapura

MYSORE: Insecurity haunts farmers of Chamalapura in H.D. Kote taluk and the flourishing agriculture in the region threatens to take a hit as private finance for farming activity is increasingly hard to come by.

Farmers with medium to large holdings who wish to sell a part of their land to meet financial emergency also perceive little interest among potential investors, which was not the case earlier.

This is attributed to the growing uncertainty among moneylenders to recover their loans, as they fear that land acquisition may be imminent for the thermal power project there.

The Rs. 5,500-crore project requires around 2,000 acres of land, and nine villages in H.D. Kote and Mysore taluks fall under the project impact area and around 20,000 people will be displaced if the project is finally approved. The power plant will require about 150 million tonnes of coal, which will spew tonnes of fly ash whose deposits will decline the agricultural yield in the region. Hence, even potential investors, who would normally offer Rs. 8 lakh to Rs.10 lakh per acre, are shying away as they perceive it to be a dead investment.

This has put a question mark on medium and long-term agricultural plans of local farmers.

While the tug of war between the Government, keen to push the project, and its opponents continues, farmers who have tremendous stakes in getting the project cancelled are already feeling the heat of the ongoing agitation due to the reluctance among financiers to lend advances. While private moneylenders charge a higher rate of interest, they are still sought after given the easy release of amount, while institutional funding is a lengthy process and entails on farmers to meet various conditions, and the advances released is perceived to be not timely.

Dasarath Choudhary, who owns land in Chamalapura and is opposed to the power plant, said that the land price was around Rs. 8 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh per acre and there was no dearth of buyers given the fertility and the easy availability of water for irrigation. Farmers with small and medium-sized holdings would sell a part of the land to celebrate marriage or meet various financial contingencies. “But ever since the Chamalapura power plant issue cropped up, potential buyers have stayed away,” he said.

The entire belt surrounding Chamalapura is fertile, despite the Government’s claim that it is barren.

Farmers reap two or three crops a year and the economy, which is agrarian, thrives on coconut and banana plantation, horticultural crops and sugarcane.

It is also among the few places renowned for marigold, which is supplied to the local market in Mysore.

But the future seems to be uncertain due to the ongoing agitation over the power plant.