BKU prepares for agitation against crackdown in Ramsar site

Meerut (Uttar Pradesh) Feb 26 : After the UP administration initiated a crackdown against illegal farming activity on Haiderpur Wetland, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) has 'threatened to launch an agitation against the uprooting of farmers.' The 6,908-hectare Ramsar site (a wetland site designated to be of international importance) lies within the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary, The area spread across hundreds of acres on the wetland site was witnessing illegal cultivation right. Muzaffarnagar district magistrate Arvind Bangari formed a joint committee of various departments to initiate action. BKU district president of Muzaffarnagar, Yogesh Sharma, said, "The crackdown began when the wheat crop started maturing. This crop is worth crores of rupees in a country where, even today, many go to sleep without food. The cultivation is not new and has been going on for ages. The crop did not mature overnight. It has been months since the cultivation started right in front of the authorities. Why were they quiet all this time?" He further said that those being evacuated are landless farmers who have taken loans. "We will launch a massive agitation if this uprooting is not stopped. We will hand over the land once harvest is complete," he said. Interestingly, to date, none of the departments, including UP irrigation, UP forest division and gram sabha, have a clear idea of the demarcation of their jurisdictions. Even the border between the two districts, Muzaffarnagar and Bijnor, is unclear. BKU activists had staged a protest on Friday against the action being taken against the encroachment. "Managing the wetland is the forest department's task even though a major portion of land belongs to the irrigation department. We have asked these departments to demarcate their areas and then monitor if there is an encroachment. We will provide all help in terms of police or administrative machinery," the district magistrate said. Farmers said, "Four days ago, the administration destroyed 10 acres of wheat crop. This is the land where our ancestors used to cultivate crops. The destroyed crop was worth lakhs. If it was illegal, why was the administration sitting  quietly for months?" They further said, "We needed just 45 more days for harvest. But the administration ruthlessly ran tractors on our crop. This is our land. We have documents. It is the government departments that have little idea about their jurisdiction.  They have committed a grave sin against the farmers." The Haiderpur Wetland, situated on the Muzaffarnagar-Bijnor border in Uttar Pradesh, was designated as the country's 47th and globally the 2,463rd Ramsar site in 2021. /IANS


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