Land belonging to farmers in India is often acquired for some public purpose, e.g. developing infrastructure.
The latest of such acquisition is for constructing the Chittoor – Thatchur Expressway (NH-716B) in Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu.
This greenfield highway will link the 262 km Bangalore – Chennai Expressway near Chittoor (KM 152) with the 133 km Chennai Peripheral Ring Road (CPRR project) at Kannigaipair with which 10.45 km will overlap – taking the overall project length to 126.550 km.
The project was approved for construction under the Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase 1 program and its Detailed Project Report (DPR) was prepared by Louis Berger Group Inc. • Total Estimated Cost: Rs. 3,197.56 crore • Total length 116.10 km.* Land required 885.5 hectares ( 525 hectares in Andhra Pradesh, and 360.5 hectares in Tamilnadu ).
The expressway will pass through Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh and Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu.
Under the guidance of Jai Kisan Andolan, an agitation against the Six Lane Way (Chittoor – Thatchur Expressway (NH-716B)) has been launched, and they have organised the affected farmers and demanded the following reports in their RTI application from the Special District Revenue Officer (LA-NH), NH 716 B on April 23, 2023 but so far have not got any response : 1. Socio Economic Impact Assessment Test Report 2. Environmental Impact Assessment Report 3. Wet Lands report 4. Feasibility Report 5. Detailed Project Report 6. Ornithological Report
These reports are mandatory under various laws, e.g. the law requiring a Social Impact Assessment, before acquiring the land
No doubt there cannot be any total prohibition from acquiring land. For instance, infrastructure development is needed if India is to progress
However, it must be realized that farmers require land for their very survival, and they may not be knowing any other vocation. If their land is to be taken away they must be given adequate compensation ( and preferably a job to a family member ) before actual physical possession is taken from them. This compensation must not just be the market value of the land, but an additional sum enabling them to learn some other vocation.
Experience, however, has shown that in India usually land of farmers is taken first, and they have to wait for years before getting compensation, and that too is woefully inadequate ( and often they have to give bribes to officials for getting even that ).
India claims to be a Welfare State, and a Welfare State must act fairly towards the citizens, following the philosophy of Rajdharma. But the truth is that the govt usually ignores this, and treats the citizens shabbily, e.g. in the matter of granting adequate compensation for land acquired.
In this connection I am reminded of a king who did justice to a cobbler whose hut was sought to be acquired :
I am going to Chennai today on the invitation of the farmers’ leaders to discuss ways and means to help them. What I have in mind is filing a PIL ( public interest litigation ) in the Madras High Court to stay proceedings of the land acquisition until the farmers get adequate compensation, as well as a job for one member of each family
To conclude, I wish you say that everyone in society, whether teacher, doctor, lawyer, judge, scientist, manager, engineer, artist, factory worker, clerk, peon or in any walk of life must eat food to survive. This food is grown by farmers. No farmer No food, and no food No life.