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Agricultural land acquisition issue

Agriculture land

India is the country of farmers , where 70% people work on the farmland and a great amount of the land is devoted for farming.” These are some words what we used to study in our primary school, but now it is not going to be studied any more in Primary schools. Because the country India, which is facing the biggest challenge on environmental planning is now preparing for its disaster. India is now on the brink of environmental disaster , but the eyes of planning and welfare department from each and every sphere of social strata is deep in sleep, or does not want to get up, by the challenges what the future is going to face on the name of development and industrialization.

India is a rich country where poor people lives, sometime a great writer quoted in his book, it took time to realize it, alwaysin India it takes time to realize the truth, because the sleep and ignorance is such that even on the sake of our lives and environment we keep our mouth shut.

Let see some of the relevant data which would be quoted by everyone, and people would say VIVEK JI Irrelevancy, any how what I see, I say, I cannot shut my mouth. India has shifted into reverse. After seeing a decline of 20 million in the number of undernourished between 1990–1992 and 1995–1997, the number of hungry people in India increased by 19 million over the following four years.With 212 million, India is the country with the highest number of undernourished people in the world.( SOFI 2006, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, World Food Programme 2006)India is home to the largest number of hungry people in the world, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday.

According to the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report, India is home to 233 million hungry people, Minister of State for Planning S B Mookherjee said in a written reply.

This is the reality of India or the reality what a class does not want to see because the policies are made for them, each act has been done in their favor, India is not any more India it is Pan America.

We see in India people hungry, dying out of malnutrition, and so on, but if see that how much land has gone from agricultural land to non agriculture usage its heartbreaking. As government, it self put the data that since 1990 to 2003 we have lost 21 lakh hectare (2.10 million hectare of land) the actual figure could be much higher. Putting just this much land in wheat production it can yield more then 57 lakh tonne of produce( 5.70 million tonne) enough to feed and save life of more then 4.3 Carores people ( 43 million people).

The father of nation Mahatma Gandhi said once “India lives in village” but not any more because the Government through the criminal policy of accusation gives the villages and the farmland to industries on the name of development.

The issue of land acquisition for the setting up of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) has focused national attention on the lossof agricultural land. Addressing a National Development Council meeting In 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: “I agree that we must minimize the diversion of agricultural land and, given the choice, must opt for using wasteland for non-agricultural purposes. However, it must be kept in mind that industrialization is a national necessity if we have to reduce the pressure on agriculture and provide gainful, productive employment to millions of our youth who see no futurein agriculture.” These were the words of the Prime minister of the country who is focusing most of the challenges on the food security of the nation.

Where as if we see the comment on similar issue of another national head of a country, he said, “It’s important for our nation to be able to grow foodstuffs to feed our people. Can you imagine a country that was unable to grow enough food to feed the people? It would be a nation that would be subject to international pressure. It would be a nation at risk. And so when we’re talking about American agriculture, we’re really talking about a national security issue.” That was President George W Bush addressing the National Future Farmers of America Organization, on July 27, 2001. For once, Bush at least makes sense.

India has lost its sense on the issue of planning and welfare; day-by-day policies are coming to fulfill the criteria’s of Industrial partners of the government.

In India, poor have always paid the price for the benefit of few people, and again poor from Villages are paying price for the benefit of the riches. To sustain the 18% growth in the civil aviation sector, the government is planning to redevelop 45big and small airports around the country. Foreign equity of up to 100% has been permitted through automatic approvals for Greenfield airports. The recently cleared Greater Noida airport near New Delhi will involve the acquisition of 1,500 hectares of farmland. Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and the Haryana state government have jointly proposed a Greenfield international-airport-cum-cargo-airport at Jhajjar, near Gurgaon, for which 4,347 hectares have been earmarked. If similar demands to build new airports come up from 20 cities or SEZs, 50,000-80,000 hectares of farmland would disappear. Again, poor would pay the prices for riches need. And again the think tank of the country would sleep , deep sleep , never to wake up until its too late.

SEZ are not only Principle reason for the diversion of farmland to non-farm use, the current and available figure indicates that large-scale diversion of agricultural land has been going on for more than a decade. At present, a little over 46% of thecountry’s area is cultivated. According to the ministry of agriculture, between 1990 and 2003 the net sown area declined byaround 1.5%. While in percentage terms this may seem insignificant, in absolute terms it translates to more than 21 lakh hectares. On the other hand, between 1990 and 2004, land under non-agricultural use has gone up by 34 lakh hectares. This extensive diversion of farmland has been facilitated by a relaxation of land acquisition and ceiling regulations post-1991, and has resulted in the State itself turning into one of the largest real estate brokers and developers in the country. All that the Centre did to protect agricultural land was issue the National Land Use Policy Outline to States and Union Territories, in 1986. Instead of full implementation, the state-level Land Use Boards have redefined their role to coercing farmers to give up farmland.

All across the country, agricultural land is shrinking. According to official figures, Tamil Nadu lost more than 10 lakh hectares of agricultural land between 1991 and 2003. Mineral-rich Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are losing agricultural land to mining and power projects. In Kerala, between 1997-98 and 2001-02, over 80,000 hectares of crop landwere diverted for non-agricultural use. Even in the case of a small state like Himachal Pradesh, the net sown area has declined by 33,000 hectares between 1991 and 2001.

This hunger for agricultural land continues unabated. Between 2002 and 2007, about 90,000 hectares of agricultural land around Hyderabad have been diverted for real estate speculation and mega-projects. Another 63,000 hectares across 20 mandals of Ranga Reddy district have been lost over the past 10 years. These figures have been reported in a paper published in the August 4-10, 2007, issue of the Economic and Political Weekly by V R Reddy and B Suresh Reddy who estimated that a mind-boggling 5 lakh hectares of agricultural land have been lost in Andhra Pradesh in recent years. The authors feel this is a conservative estimate.

Take Chhattisgarh, where 80% of the population depends on agriculture. The state government’s Vision 2010 document states: “The existing rules prevent the diversion of agricultural land for industrial use. The state would simplify the procedures of diverting land from agricultural to industrial use.” To achieve this, the state proposes that agriculture be left to the 30% of farmers who presently control 70% of the agricultural land!

There is NO difference who is ruling, the rule is similar, feed the hunger of those who are hungry for Agricultural land , whether it is BJP or Congress party , there is no difference in the rule and it is for riches, and price pays poor, as always.

Besides industrialization, agricultural land is also being gobbled up at an unprecedented rate in the name of infrastructuredevelopment. In some cases, the scale may be smaller, as with the World Bank-funded Allahabad bypass project, which ledto the acquisition of 781 hectares of prime cropland. Or it may be huge as in the case of the Ganga expressway project in Uttar Pradesh, which is expected to acquire 63,110 hectares. The Gangetic plains hold arguably the most fertile land in the country, and 70% of the land earmarked for the project is agricultural land owned and cultivated by farmers.

The National Highway Development Programme Phase V plans to widen 6,500 km of existing four-lanes to six-lane highways. Across the countryside, about 146,000 km of new roads are planned, and a dedicated programme, the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana, has been going on since 2001-02. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, meeting on January 10, 2007, called for an amendment of land acquisition laws to enable the speedy acquisition of agricultural land for Rs 5,000 crore railway expansion projects.

When the State itself goes about brazenly acquiring agricultural land and violating the principles of the National Land Use Policy Outline, can the private sector be far behind? In fact, the area being parcelled off for private sector projects is way higher that what is actually required. Take the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group’s proposed gas-based power-generation project coming up at Dadri, Uttar Pradesh. The project proposes to generate 3,600 MW of power for which the state government acquired 903 hectares of prime farmland. Not only were farmers paid 125 times less than the prevailing market rate, the land acquired is 10 times more than what is required for the project.

The Haryana government has adopted a report submitted by the consultancy firm Scot Wilson which proposes to set up 14 new townships in its National Capital Region, stretching from Sonepat in the north to Mewat in the south. Theme-basedcities will come up at these locations and will be connected by a 135 km-long expressway developed on 620 hectares. About 45,000 hectares will be developed by private and state-run agencies as residential sectors and industrial zones. Every single square inch of the land is (or was until recently) farmland.

Add to this the 2 lakh acres that the ministry of commerce intends to develop as Special Economic Zones, and the figure swells.

This exercise could begin with a few additional questions: how much agricultural land is being converted to construct houses and shops in rural areas; how much crop land has been lost for the 4,600 big dams in the country; how much crop land is being brought under jatropha; how many million hectares are being diversified from food crops to non-food cash crops (floriculture alone covers 1.2 lakh hectares), brick kilns, stone crushers, etc. While no reliable estimates are available,going by the developments in recent years it is certainly a number of times more than the official figure of 21 lakh hectares of net sown area lost between 1990 and 2003. Maybe the human element has been overshadowed by the promises of economic benefit to a few.

What will happen?

Does such large-scale diversion of agricultural land have an implication on the nation’s food security? After all, India has more than a billion mouths to feed. Besides, the country also houses half the world’s hungry.

For the sake of argument, if we accept that 21 lakh hectares of crop land have been diverted for non-agricultural use, and if this area were brought under wheat, it would amount to a mind-boggling 57 lakh tonnes of produce which could feed more than 4.3 crore hungry people every year. Had there been the political will to prevent this diversion, the number of hungry would have declined by over 12%. Since the area diverted is more than 21 lakh hectares, it is clear that policymakers are implementing a blueprint to put India on the path to food insecurity.

Diversion of agricultural land for industry is frequently justified by pointing towards cultivable wasteland -- around 132 lakh hectares -- which can be developed and put under cultivation. However, cultivable wastelands have also declined by over 18 lakh hectares between 1990 and 2004. Further, even if these wastelands are developed and made cultivable to grow food, their productivity will remain abysmally low for several years.

In addition to increased production of food grains to ensure food security, pulses and fats are necessary for nutrition security. Feeding half of the world’s hungry who live in India will require at least 170 lakh hectares of additional land. Self-sufficiency in pulses and edible oils will require 200 lakh hectares more. Where will this land come from? Forget agricultural land; there is not enough cultivable wasteland available to meet this requirement.

In addition to land, water is another resource that is limited in supply and there is intense competition between agriculture and industry for its use. As it is, barely 40% of the country’s cultivated area is irrigated. This limited area, however, accounts for more than half of the total value of Indian agricultural output. Irrigation also has the potential to increase crop yields by 30% and therefore its importance in ensuring food security cannot be ignored. However, as with land, industries are being favored for the use of water.

Given the present rules governing groundwater resources in the country, there is precious little that a state can do to prevent industries from running the underground aquifers dry and leaving nothing for surrounding farmlands. Not only groundwater, even rivers and reservoirs meant for irrigation are now at the service of industries. Take, for instance, the Whitefield Paper Mills SEZ in Andhra Pradesh. Located within 5 km of the Godavari river, the state government has permitted the SEZ to draw 100 million litres of water per day.

Lets have a look, Who consumes water most? Households? According to UNDP’s World Water Development Report, 2003 (WWDR, 2003), they account for only eight per cent of global water consumption. The agricultural sector? It is the largest user of water globally and accounts for about 70 per cent of the total freshwater abstraction. However, it is predicted that both these users will be outdone by industry: Water consumption by industries is increasing. In fact, in high income countries, industrial water use already accounts for as much as 59 per cent of the total fresh water consumption; almost twice the amount used in agriculture. It is likely, then, that this will become a global trend even as more and more nations begin to choose industry over agriculture, as a key to economic growth.

Presently, industry accounts for 22 per cent of the global freshwater consumption. It is expected that the figure will doubleover the next two decades. According to forecasts published in WWDR, 2003, the volume of water consumed per year by industry will rise from 752 km3/year in 1995 to an estimated 1,170 km3/year by 2025.

And where is this most likely to happen? Most of this increase in industrial water use in likely to happen in fast growing developing countries like India. There has been a significant migration of manufacturing industries from developed countries to developing ones and this trend is likely to continue. This will contribute to the increasing use of water by industries in developing countries.

Industrial use of water has a direct bearing on the country’s economy. This means that as India increase its GDP, there will be a corresponding increase in water use by Indian industries.

Industries not only consume water but also pollute it. According to the WWDR 2003, in developing countries, 70 per cent of industrial wastes are dumped without treatment, thereby polluting the usable water supply. Therefore, the issue of industrial water use revolves around two crucial interlinked issues — water use and water pollution.

From a per capita annual average of 5,177 cubic metre in 1951, fresh water availability in India dropped to 1,820 cubic metre in 2001. In fact, it is predicted that by 2025, per capita annual average fresh water availability will be 1,340 cubic metre approximately. Already, the potential of most river basins is being exploited beyond 50 per cent and several basins are considered to be water scarce. Over 80 per cent of the domestic water supply in India is dependent on groundwater. However, groundwater is fast depleting. Water tables have fallen significantly in most areas and there is a significant pollution of groundwater from natural as well as man made sources.

According to MoWR, industrial water use in India stands at about 40 billion cubic meters or nearly 6 per cent of total freshwater abstraction.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), in 2000, India’s annual fresh water withdrawals were about 500 billion cubic meter and the Indian industry consumed about 10 billion cubic meter of water as process water and 30 billioncubic meter as cooling water. Therefore, according to CPCB data, the water consumption in Indian industry accounts for about 8 per cent of the total fresh water use in the country.

However the reality is bit different , even after so many research and prediction and global trend India is choosing the same path of Suicide.

In Orissa, the allocation of water to industries from the Hirakud reservoir has risen 30 times over 1997 levels. Notwithstanding protests by farmers against the diversion of water meant for irrigation, the state is going ahead with its plans to increase allocation for industries like Hindalco in Sambalpur and Vedanta Industries Ltd in Jharsuguda. POSCO’s proposed SEZ in Jagatsinghpur has been allowed to directly draw water from the Mahanadi river.

The Mundra Port SEZ being developed by the Adani group in Gujarat has managed to access 6 million litres per day of Narmada water for immediate use; it expects the allotment to go up. The SIPCOT SEZ in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, will receive water from the SIPCOT water supply scheme. The government of Andhra Pradesh will install a pipeline capable of carrying a dedicated capacity of 20 million gallons of water per day for the FAB City SEZ coming up near Hyderabad. The list is endless…

It is unfortunate that despite over 177 lakh hectares of barren and uncultivated land lying unused, scarce resources like rich agricultural land and water are being poached to promote industrialization. Instead of self-reliance, the focus has nowirreversibly shifted to importing food to feed the country’s burgeoning population.

India in on the way of its disaster by promoting a kind of growth which at last would end up not supporting the basic need of the nation. And at the same time natural resources would be polluted and nothing would remain to change , lets have achange now , if we can, or be ready to see the future of our children’s those who will not remember us for our good deeds and love but for our deep sleep in which we are selling the future of this country, on the name of development and growth.

- On national interest for the people who shaped the history of this land and for those will shape future of this land , The unknown Common man


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