This Article is From Oct 28, 2015

Burnt Crops, Threats Pave Way for New Andhra Pradesh Capital, Activists Allege

Chandrasekhar Rao suspects his crop was burnt because he did not agree to give his land under the land pooling scheme.

Guntur: In Malkapuram village of Andhra Pradesh's Guntur district, nearly five acres of ready-to-harvest sugar cane crop was mysteriously burnt on the night that fell after a grand foundation stone ceremony for the state's new capital Amaravati.

Chandrasekhar Rao, whose land falls under the earmarked Capital Region, suspects that it is linked to the fact that he did not agree to give his land under the land pooling scheme.

"The previous evening, the crop looked ready to harvest. Next morning, it was all burnt. I did not give my land for the capital. Those who gave, my neighbours, their lands are untouched by the fire," he says.

Given the sensitivities, a special team of senior officers is investigating the case.

Despite certain green hurdles, chief minister Chandrababu Naidu went ahead with the grand foundation day ceremony at Amaravati. Those who raised objections allege threats and arm-twisting tactics are being used to make them fall in line.

72-year-old Sriman Narayana, who went to the National Green Tribunal opposing the proposal for Andhra Pradesh's new capital at Amaravati, says he was threatened to withdraw his case hours after the grand foundation stone ceremony for the new capital last Thursday.

"Five men came to my home and threatened me to withdraw my case. I went to the police station but they did not register my case. So I am filing a private complaint," he says.

The government has denied using any coercive tactics. Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had told NDTV that farmers willingly parted with 35000 acres of land because they were made partners in future progress.

Mr Naidu claims he will in fact build a green and blue capital. Yet another controversy seems likely over the move to divert nearly 20,000 hectares of reserve forest land for the new capital. Activists want to take this up at an international forum pointing out that it is most unwise to do that, especially in the era of global concerns about climate change.