Farmers and residents of villages in Raichur district have been protesting against the Yeramarus Thermal Power Station for 11 days, demanding jobs and compensation for the land that was acquired from them.
People from Vadluru, Chikkasuguru, Hukanuru, Yeganoor, Heggasanahalli and Yeramarus villages began their protest against YTPS on November 3. For the next 10 days they had the plant’s main gate closed, cut off the ash and water pipelines and also blocked the railway track.
Farmers say that they have been waiting to get jobs and compensation that were promised when their lands were acquired over a period of 20 years by the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB).
In 1995, the KIADB acquired 2,104 acres of land for industrial development from 600 families. Although all of them were given compensation of Rs 55,000 per acre for the agricultural land, the jobs promised for each family never materialised.
Chenna Reddy, Treasurer, of the KIADB Land Losers Association told The News Minute that this land was parceled out to several industrial units, but none of the land losers were given a job.
“KIADB told us that the company would give us jobs. People like my grandfather gave their land thinking they would benefit from the compensation. They are simple people… They didn’t know any better,” Chenna Reddy says.
“It is not just the power plant that has come up here. The officials said that the area was to be converted into an industrial zone and we were promised jobs. Now there is a chemical plant, cotton mills and the power plant. They have not yet given a single person a job,” said Y Ramanna Gowda, another farmer, who has lost his land.
Even as this battle continued, in 2014, YTPS requisitioned 826 acres from the KIADB, for which plots of land were acquired from 122 families. This included nine houses.
In 2014, 122 non-agricultural plots were acquired, 9 houses were demolished and have not yet been provided with any compensation for the loss, Reddy added. The compensation offered was Rs 16 lakh per acre for the land and also a job for each family.
“They’ve come and built the ash pipeline and the water pipeline, but we haven’t got either the compensation or the jobs. So we stopped their construction on November 3. No construction is being carried out now,” Chenna Reddy said.
He says that the process has been delayed even more because of bureaucratic red tape. “There was some legal issue for over 50 acres of the land acquired in the second phase as the notification was based on old land records. This made it difficult to identify the actual beneficiaries. The files are still moving around and no one is bothered to sort it out,” Chenna Reddy says.
Raichur Deputy Commissioner Shashikanth Senthil said that he has taken note of the farmers’ demands and concerns and written to the KPCL officials. The YTPS hasan installed capacity of 1,500 MW and is Karnataka’s third thermal power station.
“I am representing the farmers’ issue and have voice their concerns through a letter. Now, KPCL board members must take the call,” Sentil added.
KPCL officials could not be reached despite repeated attempts.
For now, the farmers have called off the protest. Deputy Commissioner Shashikumar Senthil, Congress MLA NS Bose Raju and the Chief Engineer (civil) of the plant, G C Mahendra, approached met the protesters on Monday.
“They assured us that they would meet with the Chief Minister and discuss our problem. We have demanded that within five days, they give us a written assurance guaranteeing us jobs. If not, we will begin the protest again. They have assured us that all will be sorted out by November 30,” said K Satyanarayana, a farmer.