Devanahalli Farmers fighting for 1,777 acres of land from being acquired by KIADB.
Even though the government wants to put out a global tender to audit industrial areas that are empty or have been taken over, farmers from 13 villages in Channarayapatna hobli of Devanahalli taluk in Bengaluru Rural district are fighting to keep their land from being taken by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB).
Monday was the 57th day of the protest that goes on day and night.
When the state government said it wanted to buy 1,777 acres from these villages for the second phase of the Haraluru Industrial Area, they began to fight. The land is owned by 1,867 people, and 387 families will lose their land if KIADB goes through with its plan.
‘KIADB sent us a message in January. We asked the administration over and over again to change the decision, but they didn’t listen. On April 4, we started this indefinite strike. Mukunda of Cheemachanahalli says that this will be the fourth time that a large amount of land in the hobli will be bought for industrial use.
His family of 12 had 70 acres of land at one time. For the first part of the industrial area, 42 acres were bought. If the second phase of the deal goes through, they will have two acres of land left. He also says that a lot of the land that was bought in the first phase is still empty.
No preliminary discussion
Farmers here are upset that the board didn’t talk to them or ask for their opinions before deciding to acquire the land.
‘I’m here to protect my country. I have four kids, and we all depend on the piece of land where we grow finger millet, vegetables, flowers, and other things. Narayanamma of Channarayapatna asks, ‘What do we do? Where do we go? How do we live?’ She works on the farm, does housework, and protests, just like many other farmers in the hobli.
‘We aren’t educated, and we don’t want to work for the government.’ Now we’re the ones making food. We’ll be housekeepers once the industrial area is built, she says.
The airport, Devanahalli Aerospace Park, and the first phase of the Haraluru Industrial Area have already taken about 5,000 acres from the hobli. Many people didn’t get money because of technical problems or because they didn’t keep good records. Those who did get money lost it in a few years because they didn’t know how to use it properly.
Because of this, farmers who were hurt during the first phase are now joining the protests in Channarayapatna. Farmers from different parts of the state have also gone to show their support and meet with the protesters.
This area is known for its wide range of crops, including food crops, fruits, vegetables, poultry, dairy, floriculture, and sericulture. It is also known for its hardworking farmers. One example is a polyhouse on every other farm. ‘We give food, milk, and eggs to people who live in cities. Many of us have put a lot of money into something. Hundreds of people have jobs with us. Why ruin our lives?’ asks Lakshamma, a farmer who makes it clear that they want land, not money.
‘The area that has been chosen is a green belt, not just because it has a wide range of crops, but also because it has a wide range of plants and animals.’ The eco-heritage site of the Nallur Tamarind Grove is only a few kilometers away. Nanjappa Nallappanahalli asks, ‘Can the government buy up fertile land?’
Justice V. Gopala Gowda, who is helping the farmers, says, ‘The government can’t take over farmland to use it for factories.’ This move will put at risk not only ways of making a living, but also food security. The economy based on farming will be hurt. Some of the requirements haven’t been met by KIADB, such as environmental clearance and surveys of how the project will affect society and the economy.
Also, there isn’t enough accountability and openness. He says that this is happening because the government doesn’t have a clear industrial policy or good programs for rehabilitating and resettling people. An unnamed KIADB official said that environmental clearance will be done after the land is acquired.