Balangir, Aug. 1: About a hundred farmers of Ghumer and Ainlatunga villages in Patnagarh sub-division yesterday forcibly took control of some farmland they claimed to have lost to some companies because of a “fraudulent” transaction.
The villagers took control of some 50 acres, of which they ploughed and sowed paddy seed on 10 acres.
Sources said as the district administration was doing nothing to return the land to the rightful owners, a movement was gaining momentum among the local farmers to forcibly occupy their land.
Sources said that in 2005, some New Delhi and Agra-based private companies told farmers of these villages they were interested in taking their land on lease to take up jatropha cultivation. The company allegedly got the farmers to visit the local tehsil office to sign on some documents and took over their lands on the basis of “fraudulent promises”.
The farmers, who found the offers of the company officials alluring, signed on some sale deeds without even verifying their credentials.
In May and October 2007, district collector R.S. Gopalan and revenue divisional commissioner Madhusudan Padhi conducted separate inquiries into the allegations of fraudulent land transactions and pointed fingers at the then revenue inspector, tehsildar and sub-registrar of Patnagarh for the irregularities.
Together, the private companies took away some 358.72 acres from 70 farmers of 11 villages under Patnagarh sub-division of this district by means of “fraudulent transaction”.
“We were told that the company would take our land on lease. Later, we came to know that they had usurped our land and made it in their name. But, the district administration did not help us to get back the land,” said Chhabindra Sahu of Ghumer village.
“We are organising all the farmers who have lost their land to the companies and soon they will also forcibly occupy their land. A situation like Narayanpatna cannot be ruled out here,” said activist Arun Mishra.
“I have received such a complaint from the villagers and have arrested a person in this regard. The action of the villagers to forcibly occupy their land is politically motivated,” said SDPO of Patnagarh Laxmi Narayan Panda.