MUNDHA KHERA, India, July 24, 2007 (AFP) – It’s a hot, humid Sunday morning in northern India, but the oppressive heat does not deter a group of about 15 farmers from trudging door-to-door, offering advice and sometimes warnings. “Do not sell your precious land. Even if you are offered millions of dollars, do not sell. It is your only source of livelihood,”
Mahavir Gulia, the leader of the group, tells a villager in Mundha Khera, 100 kilometres (60 miles) from New Delhi.
“Sell your land and you will lose your identity,” he warns another as the group winds its way through the cluster of austere mud, brick and cement homes.
Gulia is trying to spell out the dangers to locals whose land has been earmarked for a Chinese-style business enclave — a joint venture between the Haryana state government and Reliance Industries, India’s largest private conglomerate.
“We want to be sure our fertile land that gives us three crops a year does not end up as part of the Reliance empire,” he said. “We don’t want Reliance to colonise us. Land is what sustains us farmers with food, respect and dignity.”
In Neemana village, 10 kilometres away, Pratap Singh, 75, understands the message — but a little too late.