In a major setback to the State government, the High Court today quashed GOs 123 and 124 meant for land acquisition for the proposed Mallanna Sagar reservoir in Medak district.
Thus, the efforts of the Government to acquire land for the reservoir hit a road block with High Court cancelling the GOs and agreeing with the petitioners’ demand to implement 2013 Land Acquisition Act. The State Government is likely to move Supreme Court to stay the High Court order, it is said.
Some 20 farmers and farm workers of Zaheerabad moved the High Court against these two GOs for hampering their interests and also sought that 2013 Land Acquisition Act be implemented. Allowing the petition, the High Court quashed the GOs and agreed to victims’ demand of implementing 2013 Land Acquisition Act. The bone of contention is that the GO 123 is meant for directly acquiring land from the farmers for the Mallanna Sagar reservoir. The Government so far convinced six out of eight villages to be affected under the reservoir and promised to offer suitable compensation. The government had brought out GO 123 through which it made settlements for acquiring private lands from farmers. Dissatisfied with many ‘loopholes’ in the GO 123, some farmers from Rudrangi in Karimnagar district approached the High Court, which examined the case and questioned the government on the necessity to bring out a new Act, when the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 was already in place. It ruled in favour of the petitioners, who argued that the GO 123 sought to compensate the land owners alone and did not pay heed to the landless labour, who worked in the land for their livelihood.
The High Court ordered that the compensation must be awarded according to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 alone. The court’s order will most likely put the Telangana government on the back foot as it will have repercussions on the land acquisition for Mallannasagar and other such projects.
Reacting to the HC order, TJAC Chairman Prof. Kodandaram said he expected it to happen. The State government will face stiff opposition from the people for forcible acquisition of their lands, he said. The farmers feel that the 123 GO will render injustice to them and the government should mind its responsibility in this regard, he said. Telangana Congress chief Utham Kumar Reddy welcomed the HC order and slammed the State government for its “anti-farmer” policies. “With the High Court verdict, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao should open his eyes. The government resorted to suppress the leaders and people staging protests at Mallanna Sagar, he said. The government should stop anti-democratic policies, he suggested. Telangana TDP leader Revanth Reddy said it is the victory of farmers and farm workers. The High Court order is a slap on the government which should implement 2013 Act instead, he said. (NSS)