Upland farmers reiterate demand to exclude their land from buffer zone

Campaigns by farmer organisations under way in villages ahead of polls

Anticipating a favourable response from political parties in view of the upcoming Assembly elections, farmer organisations in upland areas have reiterated their demand for the exclusion of farmlands from the proposed buffer zone area. They also seek a solution to farmland ownership disputes with the Forest Department.

Apart from the Rashtriya Kisan Maha Sangh, the Indian Farmers Movement and the We Farm settler farmers collective, two new farmers’ movements have also made their entry with aggressive campaigns for their cause. The Kerala Independent Farmers Association and the Karshaka Shabdam say that no political parties can influence voters in the rural belt, especially in Thiruvambady, Kuttiyadi and Perambra constituencies, without giving concrete answers to their concerns. Local meetings are now under way in villages seeking farmers’ support. They make it clear that they will support only candidates who stand by the farmers’ cause and proceed with legal measures to quash anti-farmer laws and regulations. The consolidation of farmers’ votes is likely to emerge as a concern for leading political parties.

Leaders of local farmers’ coordination councils say they have the active support of thousands of voters from villages such as Kedavoor, Kodenchery, Nellippoyil, Puthuppadi, Chakkittappara, Kavilumpara and Chempanoda. People in these villages are concerned about their future as the proposed buffer zone may hit them badly, they say.

Similar movement

A similar movement by farmers’ organisation was visible even during the recent local body elections. Though there were active campaigns, it did not reflect in the election results. However, farmers’ organisation leaders claim that it sent a strong message to political parties that they would be facing a stronger challenge during the Assembly elections too.

Functionaries of the Kerala Independent Farmers Association and the Rashtriya Kisan Maha Sangh say settler farmers who made thousands of acres of hillside land cultivable daring the wild animal menace were on the verge of evacuation threat.

“We want to ensure their security in their own land. Also, wild animals like wild boar should be declared as vermin and culled to overcome the crisis,” they say.

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