Activists of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) staged a road blockade at Sangolli Rayanna Circle in Shivamogga city as part of the State-wide protest opposing the government’s move to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act. Vehicular movement between Shivamogga and Honnali was disrupted for some time owing to the protest.
Addressing the gathering, H R Basavarajappa, working president of KRRS, said that a Bill to introduce the amendment to the Act was passed by the State Assembly in February. The amendment was detrimental to the interests of the farmers, he alleged.
Basavarajappa said that, at present, prior to land acquisition for development works, it is mandatory to conduct a study on the social and environmental impact the land acquisition may cause and to hold public hearing meetings. He expressed displeasure that, through the amendment, the State government is planning to grant exemption from conducting social and environment impact assessment for the development projects that it considers are of public and national importance.
Expressing apprehension that the amendment would result in forceful acquisition of cultivable land for development projects, he said that there were no proper guidelines in the Bill on the amount of compensation to be paid for the farmers for land acquisition.
The protesters raised slogans demanding the State government to backtrack from the amendment.
The functionaries of KRRS staged a similar road blockade in Shikaripur town against the amendment. Farmers also staged demonstrations in Hosanagar, Tirthahalli and in Sugur village in Shivamogga taluk over the issue.
The Hassan district unit of KRRS staged a dharna on National Highway 75 (Bengaluru-Mangaluru highway) on Monday as part of the State-wide protest.
The farmers, who took out a march from the Hemavathi Statue Circle, staged the dharna near Boovanahalli, stopping vehicles for a few minutes.
They said the law, which was in force before 2014, was in favour of the real estate lobby. The Central government brought in a new law to benefit the farmers. However, now the State government has proposed amendments to facilitate the acquisition of farmland without the consent of farmers. The protesters urged the government to not to amend the law.
Anekere Ravi and others led the protest.
Protest in Belagavi
Farmers protested before the Suvarna Soudha here on Monday against the amendments to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
They shouted slogans against the Union and the State governments. The police took some protesters into custody and released them later.
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene demanded the repeal of the amendments alleging that they were against the interest of the farmers.
The earlier law had a provision to return land to farmers if it was not utilised for the purpose, for which it was acquired, in five years.
But the amendment does not have that clause. The acquired land remains with the government even if it is not utilised. Also, the old Act sought consent from 80% of affected farmers in case of private projects. Even that clause has been removed now, the protesters said.
The amendments brought in were only to favour the real estate industry, they said.
Though the Act had a provision for paying four times the market of value of the land, but now farmers don’t get a proper price as the value of the land has been pushed down by land dealers.
This registered price is taken as the market price by the government and even a four-fold increase does not reflect the actual market price.
They demanded that both the Union and State government to immediately drop all amendments brought to the Act failing which, the farmers would intensify their protest.
Ravi Siddammanavar, Satyappa Mallapur, Guru Somannavar, Mahantesh Hiremath, Bhimshi Gadade, Ganesh Eilgeri, Baramappa Khemalapure, and others led the strike.