15 May 2006 # IANS
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat government's decision to allot wastelands to corporate houses for commercial farming faces difficulties as activists plan to block highways and rail transport Wednesday to protest the move.
"Jamin Bachao Andolan" (Save the Land Campaign), the banner under which various activists and NGOs have gathered, will Wednesday block the national highway and the rail route leading to the Kandla port near the town of Bhachau in Kutch district, about 300 km from here.
Demanding allocation of about 4.6 million hectares of cultivable land that has been lying unused to five million landless farmers and peasants, the activists have protested the state government's 2005 circular allowing a corporate house to acquire about 2,000 acres of the government-owned wasteland, on a lease contract of 20 years, for commercial farming.
"Though there was a circular in 1987 proposing to allot land to the landless in the state, no progress has been made in the direction. But the government machinery is over-enthusiastic to give the land away to the corporate sector," said Chunibhai Vaidya, a veteran Gandhian activist.
He said the government was only a "trustee" of the natural resources and not the owner.
Vaidya and his supporters alleged that the government had allotted land in more than 126 villages to corporate houses, but the official sources did not confirm it.
The activists expect about 25,000 people to participate in the 12-hour-long "road jam" programme.