Farmers worried about their livelihood as KIADB issued notification for land acquisition.
Farmers in the Mulki villages of Kollur and Balkunje are worried about what will happen to their way of life if the land is bought for industrial use.
‘In another year or two, arecanut saplings will be ready to pick. But if the land is bought by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB), which has put out a notice about buying 1,091 acres of land for industrial use, we will lose everything,’ they said.
‘I own 3.5 acres of land where I grow arecanut, coconut, jasmine, and black pepper. I planted between 800 and 900 arecanut saplings, and they will be ready to pick in a year or two. When it was time to pick the crop, I got a notice that the government was going to buy the land. I have no idea what will happen to me,’ said Cyprian Gama from Kollur.
‘I moved here in 2002 and bought land to make a living. ‘I took out loans that I have to pay back with the crops from this land,’ he said. He also cultivates jasmine. In his yard, he has 45 jasmine plants.
‘At least 15 ‘chendu’ of jasmine are sold every day. A ‘chendu’ is a bunch of flowers tied together with a string and usually has 700 to 800 flowers. I used to get 50 ‘chendu’ of jasmine in the past. But because of pollution from factories in nearby Padubidri, the jasmine crop has dropped by a lot,’ he said.
Dennis D’Souza from Pokkemane said, ‘All these years, we were living on our own. When the country went into lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19, it didn’t affect us much because we grow enough food to feed ourselves. The government should let us live on the land without taking it over. I have been growing paddy, sapota, pineapple, jackfruit, arecanut, coconut, cashew, and other crops. People are confused and afraid because of the notice from KIADB.’
Freeda Rodrigues, who also grew up on a farm, said, ‘On the one hand, the government supports farming by giving help in the form of various welfare measures. On the other hand, in the name of industrial development, farmland is taken away and farmers are forced to move.’
‘What will we do for a living if our farmland is taken away? I’ve been taking care of the farm that my family owns. I grow arecanut, coconut, and paddy on the land that I have. I make a living because of how hard I work. Others in the family who live and work abroad might agree to the land purchase. ‘But people like us who live off farming have no future if land is taken away,’ Rajesh D’Souza said.
Mamatha Poonja, the head of the Balkunje GP, said, ‘My family also grows paddy and other crops. I know that people in the farming community work hard. A small number of farmers in Balkunje harvest rice three times a year. Land acquisition will be hard on farmers who depend on their land.