Farmers on strike against gold mining

Farmers who sold land to Ramgad Minerals and Mining Ltd (RMML) for gold mining here a few years ago, are now on a hunger strike demanding it back, claiming they had no idea what it was to be used for. Saying they had been misled by middlemen into believing the land would be used for either horticulture, dairy or agro-based industries which would provide them employment, they say they have no means of livelihood now and are forced to migrate to other towns and cities in search of jobs. The farmers also fear the gold mining will contaminate their drinking water which already has a high content of fluoride.

RMML, which plans to do mining in technical collaboration with a South African firm on the 100 acres it bought from the farmers near Attigeri village in 2007, paying Rs 1.80 lakh an acre, however, says it has paid four times the market value for the land and claims the farmers are being instigated by some interested parties, trying to scuttle the project.

“Ee have already paid them four times what the land is worth. We will give them employment once the company starts production”, says Mr Ajith Kulkarni, vice-president, corporate communication of the Baldota Group that RMML is part of. But a villager, Shekappa Karabari , insists the threat to the environment is real , as the mining will be done near the Kappatta Hills, declared an ayurveda and medicinal plants hub by the government. Gadag deputy commissioner P.B. Naik said the administration could not intervene in the matter as the villagers had willingly parted with their land.

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