Thirty-two families from Mamidyala village in Telangana’s Siddipet who are demanding fair compensation for the land acquisition for Kondopochamma project have resumed their fight against the government. Mamidyala is one of the three villages which will be submerged in the Kondapochamma irrigation project.
Their hunger strike began after Karunakar Reddy, a 27-year-old farmer attempted to kill himself on Sunday, distraught that he would not get a good price for his land. Former Gajwel Congress MLA T Narsa Reddy also joined the protest.
When the police on Wednesday night forcibly shifting Karunakar to a hospital in Secunderabad, the former MLA and the victims chose to continue their hunger strike, moving themselves to the hospital.
In 2016, the government proposed the irrigation project with a capacity of 7 tmcf (thousand million cubic feet) that would provide water to 90,000 acres of land. The government required 5,696 acres of land from six villages in Mulugu, Gajwel and Warangal mandals. The estimated project cost was Rs 700 crore. Locals allege that the government has been acquiring their land forcibly by paying a compensation of Rs 12 lakh.
The government started acquiring land for the purpose since 2016. While initially there was some resistance, eventually many of them sold their lands. According to Mamidyala sarpanch, Srinivas Goud, the government has acquired 2,500 acres of land so far, and 127 acres is remaining in Mamidyala.
However, 32 families from the village have been strongly protesting against the government. They claim that the compensation provided by the government under the rehabilitation and resettlement is paltry.
“The government is giving Rs 12 lakh per acre. This 12 lakh was two years ago, now the market value of each acre is Rs 80 lakh. Isn’t it highly unfair that the government is providing such a small sum?” asks Srinivas Goud.
Srinivas Goud and the other villagers including Karunakar Reddy had approached the High Court alleging the same and got a stay order.
However, on Sunday, large contingents of police were deployed and work for the irrigation project began despite the court’s stay. Police allegedly lathicharged the protestors who objected to stall the works.
Later in the evening, fearing that they may lose the land, Karunakar attempted suicide. However, he is stable now and receiving treatment.
Triggered by this incident, the victims have been protesting against the government.
Meanwhile, Congress working president Revanth Reddy made a visit to the hospital to enquire about Karunakar and Narsa Reddy.
Speaking to reporters after meeting Narsa Reddy, Revanth said, “Taking people into detention and grabbing their land is atrocious. The Congress party is definitely against this injustice. I appeal to the revenue authorities to immediately sort this issue.”
“I also warn police against their hand-handedness, act according to law. If you violate law, you may lose your jobs and KCR won’t come to your rescue,” he added.
Srinivas Goud said, “We are continuing our protest at the hospital. Even our ex-MLA is on a hunger strike. The government is acting with high-handedness, which is really unfortunate. We will continue our protest for a fair compensation until Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao assures of it.”