Uttar Pradesh farmers continue agitation (Lead)

August 18th, 2010 - 7:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Aug 18 (IANS) The stand-off between farmers and the Uttar Pradesh government continued in Aligarh Wednesday, with protesters refusing to accept the enhanced compensation offered in lieu of their land acquired for building the Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway.
The three-week old agitation, which was expected to be withdrawn in the wake of the revised government offer made by Chief Minister Mayawati’s special envoy and state cabinet secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh, was intensified with the farmers sinking their differences and resolving to fight unitedly.

Farmer leader Ram Babu Kathelia, whose arrest had sparked off violence, leading to firing by the police that left three people dead, made startling revelations after his release Tuesday.

“I was subjected to physical torture and threatened with dire consequences so I’m not in a proper mental state to talk,” he told a gathering of farmers in Tappal village in Aligarh, where the agitation continues.

As against the earlier offer of Rs.449 per square metre, affected farmers were given a revised offer of Rs.570 per sq metre. An additional compensation was promised in case of value addition to the land such as crop, trees or water facility.

The chief minister had also decided to enhance the ex-gratia payment of Rs.5 lakh to the kin of each of those killed in the violence to Rs.10 lakh and Rs.2 lakh to each of the injured.

“We will not end our protests till the state government agree to give us compensation on the same rate that was given to the farmers of Noida and Greater Noida in lieu of their land acquired for the project,” Katheria said.

“Friends, we need to continue with our agitation till the state government offers us compensation at the rate of Rs.850 per square metre. We are not going to buckle under any kind of pressure mounted by the state government,” he added.

Katheria had Tuesday decided to call off the farmers’ agitation after holding talks with senior government officials, who agreed to a hike in the compensation rate.

A large number of farmers, meanwhile, continued to arrive in Tappal to decide their future course of action in the panchayat that started Aug 16. Since then several leaders from various political outfits have participated in the panchayat.

The 165-km long Yamuna Expressway, which is expected to reduce the driving time between New Delhi and Agra to just about 90 minutes, will pass through the districts of Gautam Buddha Nagar, Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar (Hathras) and Mathura and involved acquisition of land in as many as 115 villages.

A total of 2,500 hectares is to be acquired for the development of the expressway - 500 hectares each in Noida, Aligarh and Agra and 1,000 hectares in Gautam Buddha Nagar.

The project was originally to be completed in May 2013 but the deadline was advanced to March 2011.

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