The farmers want their land back, or want to be compensated well.

Swindled by a broker 90 odd farmers sold their land for a pittance in APScreengrab: Sakshi News
news Land Grabbing Monday, June 12, 2017 - 17:49

In November 2016, farmers from the Madupaka village of Pendurthi mandal in Vishakapattinam district faced a strange quandary. They were told by a broker that they could either sell their land to him at a ‘good price’ or wait for the government to take it over for whatever price the government offered.

When a group of farmers resisted, the broker, a man with influential connections in the area, allegedly threatened them.

“In November 2016, the broker Venkata Raghu Rama Raju scared farmers and convinced them to sell their lands. He gave them a down payment of Rs. 1 lakh per acre. He had agreed to pay a total of Rs 30 lakhs per acre, but that money was never given," Aripalli Ganesh, a farmer from Madupaka village told TNM.

On Monday, distressed farmers from the area, protested against the land grabbing. The farmers want their land deeds, taken away by Rama Raju, to be handed back.

With the protests gathering momentum, the opposition too is jumping in. Vijaya Sai Reddy, YSR Congress Party’s Secretary, leaders of the CPI, CPI (M) and BSP visited the village.

Rama Raju, the farmers allege, told them that since the Vishaka Urban Development Authority (VUDA) was acquiring land from a nearby village called SR Puram for their land pooling programme, Madupaka village farmers too would have to part with their land.

The government had given these lands to the farmers in 1978 through a land distribution programme. A total of 950 acres of land was given to landless farmers, of which pattadar books were given for around 450 acres.

According to Paidi Raju, CPI Vishakapatanam District president, Rama Raju a middleman close to Pendurthi MLA Bangaru Sathya Narayana Murthy, pressurised farmers to give them the lands at the price he offered price. “He told them that otherwise the government will any way take the lands without giving anything. The land must be given back or he must pay the farmers as per market price,” he said.

During the time of agreement, farmers were made to sign on plain stamp papers, the CPI and farmers alleged. “Transactions on assigned land is null and void as per the Assigned Land (Prohibition and Transfer) Act of 1977. So, the government should intervene,” said Paidi Raju.

Almost all victims of this scam are Dalits and belong to economically weaker section of society.

Farmers allege that Rama Raju gave away their lands to VUDA, and made Rs 1.20 crore for every acre.

When TNM contacted VUDA, officials said that even though the government had identified five villages for land pooling programme, it did not involve the Madupaka village. “We have not taken any land from this village. We have however got two proposals from someone in the village saying they want to join the land pooling programme,” a VUDA official said.

"MLA Bandaru Sathya Narayan Murthy should come and fight for the farmers if he hasn’t committed any wrong,”  JVS Murthy CPI Central committee member told TNM.

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