Satellite pictures help farmers back their claims for higher compensation

Satellite pictures help farmers back their claims for higher compensation

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Maharashtra, India, October 10, 2006 – Roughly 140 kilometre from Mumbai, the capital city of Indian state of Maharashtra, farmers are turning to technology to fight for their rights.

Four months ago, the farmers of Pen taluka in Raigad district were told the state government was acquiring their land to help build the 25,000 acre Maha Mumbai Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

That’s when an activist of the SEZ Hatao Virodh Samiti, Arun Shivkar, logged on to Google Earth. “We used Google technology to prove to the authorities that the land is fertile,” said Shivkar.

Shivkar says initially state authorities claimed that only a small portion of the earmarked land is fertile and that some parts of it is submerged by salty creek water, meaning lower compensation for the farmers.

But Google Earth has come to the rescue and its satellite pictures clearly indicate crop areas. This has helped farmers back their claims for higher compensation. The technology has also brought together farmers from 45 villages to put up a common front and protest the acquisition of their land.

The ingenious ways in which farmers in Maharashtra are using Google Earth to fight for their rights is perhaps a testament to how technology is truly flattening the world.