The world famous belt of Basmati rice in Dehradun is under threat. The state Congress government has acquired about 654-hectare agriculture land belonging to 30 villages. This has invited a massive protest from farmers against the Congress government. Interestingly, the state government has initiated flurry of construction activities in the region despite acknowledging the fact that permanent capital of the state is yet to be decided.
Demanding immediate cancellation of the acquisition of agriculture land, Shri Nityanand Swami, veteran BJP leader and former Chief Minister of Uttaranchal, observed an indefinite hunger strike in Dehradun. On third day of the strike, Chief Minister Shri N.D. Tewari visited him and assured that his government would cancel the entire land acquisition process. He requested Shri Swami to break his hunger strike, which he did by accepting a glass of juice from Shri Tewari.
Talking to Organiser in Dehradun, Shri Swami said that there was absolutely no need to acquire the land and it would affect at least three lakh farmers of 30 villages. He said the Government has the right to acquire land under Section-4 of the Land Acquisition Act-1894 for ?public purposes?, but acquiring land for constructing shops and houses does not constitute public purpose. He said the state government already has sufficient infrastructure in Dehradun and the Central Government also has its offices already in places, so it also does not need any land for these purposes.
It is a known fact that the Mussorie-Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA) does not have sufficient money to pay even the interest of the previous loans it had taken from HUDCO and other financial institutions. The MDDA too has accepted on record that it does not have money to pay farmers for acquisition of their land in Kanwali, Ajabpur Kalan, Chalang, Dhakpatti, Chahkah Nagar, Niranjanpur, Dehra Khas and Mazra.
Shri Swami said the area under cultivation of world famous Basmati rice would reduce substantially due to this land acquisition. ?The government should take back the entire land acquisition of 654 hectares. The BJP will include the cancellation of land acquisition in its election manifesto and will also cancel the entire process if it comes to power. Development must not come at the cost of people. It is strange that Dehradun is being fast converted into a concrete jungle,? he said. Shri Swami started his indefinite hunger strike at the Kargi Chowk in Dehradun on October 9. Senior BJP leaders including state president Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Leader of Opposition Shri Matbar Singh Kandari and various MLAs visited the spot and extended full support to the strike. Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari reminded that the interim BJP government never resorted to such anti people steps.
Shri Swami said 61 per cent of the total land in state is covered by forest. ?As much as 25 per cent is not good for agriculture and only 14 per cent is cultivable. It is not proper to acquire it for non-agricultural uses. The Bhoomi Bachao Samiti had been heading the farmers? movement against the acquisition of land for more than 450 days, but the government did not pay attention to it,? Shri Swami said. (R.S.)