Hyderabad, March 6: The Telugu actor and Janasena Party chief Pawan Kalyan on Friday demanded that the interests of farmers, farm labourers and others be protected as the Andhra Pradesh government goes through with the process of land pooling for creating a new capital city for the state.
"95 per cent of the farmers gave their land voluntarily. When it is voluntarily given, what problem do I have? I am not against their ambitious plans (for developing a grand capital). What I am saying is how are you going to protect (the interests of farmers, farm labourers)," he told reporters.
Kalyan, who toured the villages on Thursday lying in the area proposed as the site for the capital region, near Vijayawada, called for a 'social impact assessment' as the development of a capital city in the primarily agriculture region involved several factors like livelihood of farm labourers and impact on agricultural production.
Observing that the farmers have been dependent on cultivation for their livelihood, Kalyan said he was in favour of a phased development of the capital city instead of the agriculturalists being asked to stop farming at once.
AP government has pooled around 32,000 acres in the region and farming is proposed to be stopped by end of April.
The state government is implementing a 'land pooling' policy in which a package of benefits, including share in developed land for residential and commercial purposes and financial assistance, is offered to the farmers who handed over their land.
"How many acres (of land) is needed for capital, it is a policy decision. I am not saying no to it. There can be phases (for development of capital). "If you are planning a secretariat, then don't stop farming in other places. Allow... Stop crops where you are developing. Capital is not going to come up overnight," he said.
Noting that some of the villages in the region are not ready to be part of the land pooling as the farmers cultivate three crops annually, he said those villages should be excluded from the project, if possible.
Alleging that ownership of land changed hands after it was allotted for industrial purposes in undivided AP, he said the poor farmers or land owners are left helpless in the process.
During his visit to the said villages, Kalyan had threatened to go on a fast if the state government tried to "forcibly" acquire land.