DHAR IS following in Singur's footsteps — but the fire this time is within the saffron ranks. A Sangh Parivar outfit is set to oppose the BJP government’s plan to acquire nearly 4,000 acres of land for an auto-testing track near the Pithampur Industrial Area in Dhar district.
The Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), an RSS arm, will lead a farmers’ demonstration on the issue at the Dhar collector’s office on January 8. Farmers in 10 villages, who are parting with their land for the Rs 1,000-crore project, are unhappy with the compensation package.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Jamuna Devi, from Dhar, has written to BJP president Rajnath Singh, opposing the acquisition of land. “We expect the same kind of opposition to the Pithampur project from BJP as it displayed against the Tata Motor’s project in Singur in West Bengal,” she wrote.
She said the government was taking over fertile land for the project in tribal-dominated areas like Khandwa, Kalyansikhedi, Madhopur and Sagaur. She warned that farmers would take on the government if it continued with land acquisition. State BJP spokesman Umashankar Gupta dismissed “comparison between Singur and Pithampur as ridiculous” citing that the auto-testing track project belonged to the Centre. “Jamuna Devi is criticising her party’s government at the Centre,” Gupta said.
But there are voices of dissent in the BJP too. Senior party leader and former Union minister Vikram Verma expressed concern over the farmers’ resentment against the compensation package in letters to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and industry minister Babulal Gaur.
Verma, from Dhar district, says the state government’s compensation package is not satisfactory as it does not take care of the permanent loss to the GenNext of the farming community, whose land will be acquired by the government. He told the Hindustan Times that he has taken up the issue with the chief minister, but the government has not responded to his letter.
The BKS sees similarities between Singur and the auto-testing track project. “We want the state to acquire barren land. The compensation package should be attractive if it takes over fertile land,” BKS state executive member Pop Singh Nagar told the HT.
He warned that the agitation against the project would turn violent unless it was shifted to a barren plot or adequate compensation was offered to farmers in lieu of fertile land. Nagar said under the existing scheme, of the 10 villages to be affected by acquisition, people in two villages would have to be displaced. The state government has offered Rs one lakh per acre as compensation.