Letter to PM on Condition of Farmers-Yamuna Express Super-Highway

Saturday, June 04, 2011

To,
Dr.Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister
Government of India
New Delhi
India

Sub: Regarding the condition of farmers who are victims of Land Acquisition subject to Yamuna Super-Highway Project.

Respected Prime Minister,

A field visit and a public hearing was organized during the last week of May 2011, to understand the situation of farmers affected by a project called “Yamuna Super-Highway Project” in Uttar Pradesh.

From the field visit it became clear, that the farmers were terrified, as they were abused by the UP Government Official as well as the goons of the Jay Pee Company. Many of them were under shock, and could not speak out publicly about their suffering. Many farmers are still hiding as they are implicated in various cases as a result of resistance to land acquisition.

On the 29th of May , a public hearing was organized at Youth Hostel , Agra in the presence of a panel constituting reputed writers, thinkers and social workers. The panel was lead by Dr.Devinder Sharma, Mr.Rajiv Vora, Dr.Anand Pradhaan and Dr.Ran Singh Parmaar. In four hours about 20 farmers, men and women both presented their horrifying stories in front of the panel. The issues that emerged in the hearing are as follows:

1) Farmers are not interested in selling their lands, but are being forced to put their signatures on the dotted line.
2) The farmers treated shabbily, by the workers of the company; some farmers are even absconding of fear, and fear of ill treatment.
3) According to the farmers, violations of environmental law and human rights have taken place in a big way in this process.
4) There is no discussion on compensation to the farm workers who were to lose their jobs if the land is acquired.
5) Women and Children are facing harassment and they are living under great sense of insecurity, since the men of the family are still hiding to save themselves of the cases levied on them.
6) There is no clarity on how much land is needed for the project. Rather than using a dialogue mechanism to convince the farmers, physical force is being used upon for taking land.
7) The compensation paid varies from place to place. Farmers are very concerned about their future and social security.

At the end of the public hearing, the farmers formulated some grievances and demands, which they wanted me to carry to the Prime Minister of India, and also the President of the National Land Reforms Council. These are as follows:

1) Immediate withdrawal of all cases, related to the resistance of land acquisition (There are many farmers on whom there as much as 20 cases).
2) Those farmers, who have been killed in the shoot-outs, should be given respectful position as martyrs. Their widows should be given a pension ( About 14 families are affected this way)
3) All cultivable land acquired and not used since 2000 should be returned to the farmers (Farmers are willing to return the money in installments)
4) The farmers whose land was already acquired for Yamuna Express Super-Highway , should be paid same amount of money as in the case of farmers in NOIDA, and should be treated as partners in the project.
5) At least one person from every family, who have lost the entire cultivable land, should be given a Government job.
6) Farm laborers who have lost their employment because of the project, should be compensated, and should also be offered livelihood support.
7) The entire land acquisition process by Jay Pee Company in Uttar Pradesh should be invested by CBI (The farmers suspect huge corruption involved in various projects for which land was acquired)

The farmers have already come to Jantar Mantar, Delhi for a Dharna, more are coming in the coming days. May I request the PM Office to depute someone your behalf to meet the farmers and take them into confidence, in terms of how the Government is going to proceed in this matter.

With thanks and regards

P.V.Rajagopal
Member- National Land Reforms Council

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