The Hyderabad High Court informed the Telangana government on Saturday that it could not go forward with the land acquisition process at the Vemulghat village, as part of its Mallanna Sagar Reservoir project.
The court ordered that the state must first adequately attend to the objections of the farmers and people who will lose their land.
While hearing a petition by a group of 23 farmers from Vemulaghat, the court stayed a declaration made by the Telangana government under section 19(1) of the New Land Acquisition Act, 2013.
The court also dubbed the action of the government to pay Rs 6 lakh per acre to land holders, after deciding a rate of Rs 85,000 per acre, as illegal.
Nearly 100 residents of Vemulaghat village have been staunchly protesting the Mallannasagar irrigation project for over a year now.
In July last year, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao met the locals at his farmhouse in Erravalli, even as some protesters continued their relay hunger strike at the village.
He also heard the woes of the locals, and assured them that a two-bedroom house would be built by the government, for those who gave up their land, along with the compensation offered by the state.
While this was a major development, as the two parties had reached a deadlock earlier, the locals still weren't entirely convinced.
The Mallannasagar project, which seeks to divert water to drought-hit regions of the state, will submerge 14 villages in the district. When the project was initially announced, large-scale protests broke out in eight of the 14 villages.
Since then, all villages have caved in. Vemulaghat remains the sole point of protest.
The villagers say that they are willing to give in their land, if it is acquired under the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, rather than under a Government Order issued by the state.
At present, the government has assured villagers of compensation of Rs 6 lakh for every acre of farmland and a 2-BHK house near Gajwel, in exchange for their house sites.
However, the villagers of Vemulaghat distrust the offer, and fear that they will lose their lands while the promised compensation gets caught in bureaucratic red tape.