Whither land pooling?
Whither Land Pooling. Land pooling for the capital of Andhra Pradesh has reached a political flash point. Leaders are making political pilgrimages to...
…the question now is whether the farmers who give their land for the capital will get more price than the prevailing market price today. The npredictable and volatile character of the land market is making farmers dizzy
Land pooling for the capital of Andhra Pradesh has reached a political flash point. Leaders are making political pilgrimages to the designated area. The opposition is marshalling its forces to make the life of the government miserable. Conflicting reports are pouring in on the level of cooperation from the farmers. However, many questions still remain unanswered giving the opposition an axe to grind with.
Selling the capital dream was the cynosure of Chandrababu Naidu’s 2014 election campaign. It still remains his unique selling proposition. But, the ground zero presents many challenges. The government was deliberately ambiguous for a long period over the quantum of land and the exact location of the capital. This has let loose real estate speculators. The government’s statement in the legislature said that the capital would be located somewhere in the surroundings of Vijayawada. It is hard to believe that the government has made this statement without coming to a conclusion on the exact location. Certainly, the ruling elite who were privy to this information might have had a heyday. The lack of clarity in the government’s statement for few months before it decided on Tulluru has led to spiraling of land prices.
Reports suggest that official and unofficial land sales galore in and around Tulluru. Thus, the question now is whether the farmers who give their land for the capital will get more price than the prevailing market price today. The unpredictable and volatile character of the land market is making farmers dizzy. Chandrababu Naidu is appealing for cooperation calling for faith in him. But, such things cannot be left to faith. The government should provide a legal guarantee to promised return from the land they get after development. Land prices do not go up just because of a few government buildings. The metropolitan economy cannot be transplanted on the new capital. Thus, the legal guarantee to expected return would assuage the feelings of land owners.
The village and the agrarian economy support the livelihood of many landless people like agricultural workers, artisans, petty traders and so on. Unfortunately, their concerns are not even heard. The government should come out with a comprehensive social security scheme for such people who would be deprived of their livelihood due to change in land use pattern.
The plight of tenant farmers has to be addressed. The practice of tenancy farming is significant in this area. Mere talk of skill development for all such displaced cannot convince them.The farmers are offered financial assistance of Rs 20,000 during the gestation period. It is not clear whether such compensation is confined to land owners whose land was pooled or for all those who are losing their livelihood. Besides this compensation is far less compared to what a farmer earns on his land at least in some of the villages. Many such tricky issues need to be sincerely addressed rather than political one-upmanship.