Protests over acquisition of 1,000 acres of land for an airport in the iron ore mining district of Bellary turned violent on Sunday with the local police resorting to firing
and lathi-charge to bring protesting farmers under control. Several people,including policemen,were injured when farmers began hailing stones on the police. Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has blamed the protests on the opposition Congress and claimed it was part of efforts to destabilise the BJP Government which has a strong base in the district.
Opposition to acquisition of land at Siriwar village in Bellary has been building up since December last year when the project was finalised. The airport project is a pet initiative of Tourism,Infrastructure Minister and BJPs Bellary strongman G Janardhan Reddy. The city currently relies on private airstrips for aircraft landings.
Earlier,protests were held at the site designated for the new airport at the time of a survey of farmland in Siriwar village.
Despite the opposition to the project,Reddy,who is also a mining baron from the region,has expressed confidence that the airport will come up with farmers themselves performing a bhoomi puja.
Farmers have been upset over land surveys being conducted without prior notices to the land owners. There has also been concern that the land being acquired falls in a fertile,irrigated tract where farmers can grow two crops a year. Farmers have suggested developing existing airstrips as airports.