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Uttar Pradesh: 3 people have died in skirmishes between the police and farmers protests over the land acquisitions for the Yamuna Expressway in the state of Uttar pradesh over the past week. This is because approximately 40,000 acres of land is being acquired for the construction of an expressway between Agra and Noida. Land around the proposed expressway is also being acquired for the construction of a township and the farmers are not being adequately compensated even after slight increase in compensation from 449 to 570 Rs per sq meter and the farmers remain unsatisfied.

BKU farmers have also joined the already protesting farmers in their struggle against unfair grabbing of agricultural land. Ch Tikait [head of BKU] will be joining farmers in Tappal [in Aligarh] after a protest march from village Sisauli to Tappal. At Tappal, a kisan panchayat [farmers meeting] will be organized to plan the future course of events. BKU spokesman Yudhvir Singh said, “we are not against the construction of a highway but the construction companies are being donated land by the UP government at such a low cost not only on the highway route but also all along the sides of the highway. Farmers will get a mere 570 Rs per square meter but the Jaypee company will colonize that area by developing real  estate like farm houses, malls and condos and then selling the same land for more than 1000 times the price.” We are not talking about a couple of acres here, but more than 21% of the land in India’s largest state U.P. has already been earmarked for such projects.

So the issue is not just adequate compensation, it is as much about how the land is used. The government quietly meting out  extra chunks of fertile land to corporations for commercial construction  will be a very profitable business venture for a few at the cost of the livelihood of thousands and India’s food security itself.

Farm land grabbing is a major problem in India with the wave of land acquisitions for development such as Special Economic Zones [SEZ’z], highways and townships springing up everywhere. In a country where there is rampant hunger and unemployment, cities on the verge of explosion and a huge agricultural population the only sensible and just  thing to do is to support people who work the land and protect its productive capacity. We need to create policies that will appreciate the farmer’s  role in society as the food growers of the nation and provide them a dignified life and a decent income. What will we achieve by wasting fertile land on more malls, condo’s and disney lands?- hunger,  more farmers suicides and even more slums in the cities.

For more information of farm land grabs world wide: http://farmlandgrab.org/
News articles on the current UP Yamuna expressway issue:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/Aligarh-farmers-seek-Tikaits-help-to-intensify-agitation/articleshow/6333396.cms

http://stockmarkettoday.in/2010/08/19/up-govt-offers-enhanced-package-to-agra-farmers/

http://ibnlive.in.com/generalnewsfeed/news/bku-extends-support-to-farmers/243165.html

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