Hyderabad: Telugu actor and Janasena Party chief Pawan Kalyan today 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 here.
Kalyan, who yesterday toured the villages 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 yesterday, Kalyan had threatened to go on a fast if the state government tried to "forcibly" acquire land.
Meanwhile, stating that BJP has so far not stood by its word on giving special category status to Andhra Pradesh, he called upon MPs from the state to fight on the issue.
"They (Centre) are citing some problems. They say that if AP is given special status, then industries would leave from other states. If you think so, why did you give the word in Parliament? If you go back on your word, how would people, who trusted you, react? Then how would you expand BJP in AP? They (BJP) should know that," he said.
Noting that even a few MPs used to fight for separate Telangana, Kalyan said MPs of both TDP and YSR Congress need to raise their voice now in support of the demand for special status to AP.
Kalyan, younger brother of actor-turned-politician and former Union Minister Chiranjeevi, had announced the formation of Janasena Party ahead of last year's elections.
His campaign against Congress, along with TDP Chief N Chandrababu Naidu and the then NDA Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, is seen as being one of the main reasons for the success of the TDP-BJP combine in the elections.
When asked about comments in some sections that there could be "match-fixing" between himself and TDP, he said he stands to make no gain in the process.
"What is the advantage I am getting?" he asked.
Noting that he does not hold any official position, he said his party is still being built and he can express his concerns only through media.