Thousands of farmers in North Gujarat are protesting against the Narendra Modi government for proposing a Special Investment Region (SIR) which they claim will take away fertile land from them without adequate compensation.
On Tuesday, farmers from 44 villages in three districts of Ahmedabad, Mehsana, and Surendranagar where the SIR is proposed to come up took out a tractor rally to the state capital Gandhinagar raising slogans against the government and the project. The farmers are demanding immediate scrapping of the project.
The protests are being led by a noted social activist and a former BJP MLA, Kanu Kalsaria. "There were more than 10000 farmers on 500 tractors which took part in the rally. We are trying to save the farmers and making attempts for the government to see reason as the project was anti farmer," he said.
Villagers are against the project pointing out that almost 80 per cent of the land set to be acquired was agricultural. "The land situated in this region was very fertile and in some places it yields three crops in a year. Also 50 per cent of the land will be acquired without adequate compensation,'' claimed Convenor of the SIR movement, Lalji Desai
Protesting villagers have submitted a memorandum to the state government threatening to intensify their agitation in case the project was not scrapped. The government claims it was looking into the farmers demands.
"At no cost will we allow our lands to be given for corporates. We want the government to provide us land, Narmada waters and food for poor and not take away our land from us," on farmer said.
Interestingly, the agitation comes at a time when a recent census report has claimed that compared to last census, the number of farmers in Gujarat had gone down by 3.5 lakhs. Many see this as a fallout of massive industrialisation in the state.