Farmers on cycle 'yatra' urge protection of lands

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Hyderabad, Feb 6 (UNI) A group of farmers, on a cycle 'yatra' from Kanniyakumari to New Delhi, today urged the Centre and State Governments to protect them and their farm land, which were being ''usurped'' on the pretext of creating Special Economic Zones (SEZs) at the cost of nation's ''food security''.

Prof Anil P Joshi, leading the campaign under the auspices of the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation, told reporters here that the governments should realise that the country would not be in a position to meet the food requirement of the ever-growing population by 2050, if the exercise of converting agricultural lands into SEZs continued.

He said a suitable legislation should be enacted to reserve certain parts of the farm lands exclusively for agriculture.

Stoutly opposing ''snatching away'' of fertile land for SEZs, Prof Joshi said instead of paying compensation to farmers, they should be made partners in the SEZs.

Pressing for the setting up of 'farmers' bank', he said the banks should reduce the interest rate and take responsibility for marketing farmers' produce.

He pleaded for the removal of restrictions on the movement of agricultural commodities from one state to another and said only then farmers would get remunerative price for their produce.

UNI SM VA KD HS1558

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