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In ‘live graves’, it’s dark Diwali for Ninder farmers

Jaipur: On Diwali, when people will worship goddess Laxmi at their homes for prosperity, 64-year-old Lalaram, a Farmer at Ninder village near Jaipur, will worship the deity while crouching in a pit.

Lalaram has been in ‘Zameen Samadhi’ for past 17 days to protest against acquisition of his agriculture land for a housing project by the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA).

It will not be ‘Happy Diwali’ for Ninder’s nearly 1,000 farmers who have been forced to celebrate the festival burying themselves neck-deep in the ground, as the state government appears in no mood to accept their demand to de-acquire their farming land.

In a unique protest, which these farmers have termed as “zameen samadhi”, the affected families have dug thousands pits and buried themselves to protest against the land acquisition by the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA). These protesters include 600 women and 100 children and 300 men. The protest has been going on round-the-clock for past 17 days.

The JDA has acquired nearly 1,350-bigha agriculture land to develop a housing project. Nagendra Singh, the coordinator of Ninder Bacho Kisan Yuva Samiti, said, “Dark Diwali will be observed at farmers houses. We would lit ‘diyas’ in front of our pits. The state government has shown insensitive behaviour towards farmers who are fighting for their livelihood. Farmers have no other option left other than to protest, if their lands are taken away, every Diwali will be dark for them,”

The JDA has proposed the city’s second largest residential scheme over 1350 bighas at Ninder near the Jaipur-Sikar highway. Nearly 1,100 of the 1350-bigha is to be acquired from private holders. Of this, 800-bighas are fields of local farmers.

Farmers alleged that majority of JDA’s housing schemes developed in past 10 years were still lying vacant and, yet, it was bent upon developing a new scheme, that too by uprooting the farmers and snatching away their means of livelihood. The civic body is developing a housing project without its utility after taking expensive land from the farmers.

“The government should acquire land of farmers as per the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act. It’s clearly mentioned, that government cannot acquire land, if consent from 80% farmers is not given. Also, government is not providing any compensation to the farmers,” added a protester.

During the ongoing protest, health of more than 14 farmers was deteriorated as they are protesting sitting in pits. Farmers protesting at Ninder have begun to get skin infections. Many farmers have got rashes and boils in their legs but they are not willing to give up.

Also, there is one Kavita Kumawat (22), daughter of a farmer from Ninder village, whose marriage is scheduled on October 1st. Kumawat instead of making preparations for her marriage is staging a protest against the land acquisition.

These farmers of Ninder village demanded to conduct a fresh survey of their land on the basis of five points.

Farmers, who have taken ‘zameen samadhi’ demanding de-acquisition of land, alleged that previous governments acquired their land after conducting a ‘misleading’ survey. They demanded a committee should be constituted comprising JDA officials and farmers of Ninder village to carry out fresh survey.

The committee should cover all the hamlets and housing colonies developed on acquired land of Ninder village. A report estimating minimum need of every family members should also be prepared. The committee should also assess the cost of structures which will be damaged during acquisition.

The farmers have also demanded to assess the income of the families and impact on their lives after land acquisition. Though the state government has agreed to farmers’ demand to conduct a fresh survey, it has simultaneously announced to continue the work of developing a colony on the land which is in JDA possession. However, the idea has not gone down well with the farmers who are protesting.

“We have demanded that no work on Ninder housing project site should be done till the survey report is completed,” said a farmer.

The JDA, however, is adamant to carry out work on nearly 282 bighas of land, which was surrendered by the farmers earlier.

Source : timesofindia

This post first appeared on Daily Kiran, please read the originial post: here

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In ‘live graves’, it’s dark Diwali for Ninder farmers


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