The farmers say that unless the government provides a proper resettlement package as per law, they will not give up their land.

June 4 marks two years of Vemulaghat protests Farmers say they wont budgeImage: Abhinav Kulkarni
news Protest Monday, June 04, 2018 - 09:16

In a historical struggle against the government, the residents of Vemulaghat have completed two years in protest against the construction of the Mallanasagar reservoir, a pet-scheme of the Telangana government, on Monday. While the villages and hamlets that surround Vemulaghat have given up their protest against the project, this particular village has refused to bow before the might of the government.

The residents of Vemulaghat say, they will not stand for forcible land acquisition, and that they will not give up their homes and farms unless they’re paid proper compensation.

It all started on June 4, 2016; the farmers of Vemulaghat formed a struggle committee, and erected a tent in the village. Since then, the people of the village have been protesting every single day, and are on a relay hunger strike.

In 2016, the Telangana government proposed the idea to resolve the water crisis in the state through the Kaleshwaram irrigation project. As part of the project, Mallanasagar reservoir was to be constructed in Siddipet district, which will gobble up at least 14 villages.

Although the government has offered a compensation of around Rs 7 lakh per acre, the farmers say this compensation is not enough. They are demanding rehabilitation and resettlement as per the 2013 land acquisition act, which also provides an employment for those who are giving up their land. However, the government has bypassed the Act and issued a government order to evict the farmers and acquire their lands, allege the protestors.

“When a farmer is told to leave his home and land, the government should ensure that he is provided with land and a fair compensation. They just can’t be told to leave the village without providing proper means to live. But the government is no mood to provide proper resettlement and is using its machinery against the innocents,” alleges activist and advocate Hayatuddin, who has been part of the struggle.

The 14 villages which are going to be affected are – Etigadda-Kishtapur, Vemulaghat, Pallepahad, Singaram, Erravalli and few others.

“Due to coercion, most of the farmers in other villages gave up their land, but a few of them in Etigadda-Kishtapur are still fighting the government,” says Santosh Reddy, one of the farmers from Vemulaghat.

Though the villagers are strong in their resolve to protest against the project, some are afraid that the government could crack down on them with the help of the police.

And not without reason. In July 2016, when the farmers protested against the government, violence was unleashed on them by the police, who injured as many as 50 farmers in Erravalli. After receiving much backlash from activists and the opposition, the government withdrew from adopting violent actions against protestors.

“Already, the works for the construction of reservoir has begun in Erravalli. When we tried to stop them, they threatened us,” Santosh alleges.

However, Hayatuddin and the other protestors say that they will fight the government tooth and nail.

“We won’t give up our struggle unless the government offers proper packages to us,” Hayatuddin says.  

 

Read:

‘They rose like a wave’: Viral song celebrates Telangana irrigation project agitation

Ground Report: Why this Telangana village has been on a non-violent protest for close to a year

 

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