This post is part of our weekly article series, What is an Wera?, which focuses on what you need to know about the Wera system in India.
Wera, or WERA, is a system of protection provided to farmers and the environment in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The system was implemented by the state government in 2014, but it has been widely criticised by environmental activists for being a cash grab by a handful of large agribusinesses.
According to the World Bank, WERA has resulted in the loss of nearly 60% of arable land in the state, with a loss of more than 2.2 million hectares, or 1.7% of the state’s total area.
WERA is also responsible for destroying over 70% of rainforest in the district, and forcing thousands of farmers to flee their land.
Wera also threatens to destroy the livelihoods of over one million farmers, who depend on their land to feed themselves and their families.
“The Wera scheme is a big waste of land and water,” said Arvind Pal Singh, an activist and former member of the Maharashtra State Council for Forest and Environment.
“It has made it very difficult for farmers and water users to maintain water, feed their families and work in their villages.”
According to the latest estimates, Wera has resulted at least 2.6 million farmers to be displaced in the country, of whom 1.6 lakh are in Arunanchal Pradesh, a district in Arishikota state in the western state of Maharashtra.
“There is a huge disparity between what the farmers have received and what the land is worth, so it’s impossible to get them out,” said Pal Singh.
“The scheme is not fair.”
The Wera issue is one that many farmers have taken up with the government of Aruna Kejriwal, the Delhi-based state’s chief minister, and the opposition Congress party.
Kejriwal has pledged to ensure that all the affected farmers get their land back, but has yet to announce the exact amount of the land.
In her 2014 state budget, Kejriwal had proposed a WERA scheme worth Rs 1.4 trillion ($1.9 trillion), but has not yet announced any figures for the total.
“We are hoping to get some data within the next two months.
The government is working towards it,” said K.M. Ghosh, an agronomist and former spokesperson for the Congress party who is now a professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Delhi.
“But, we are still waiting for details.
We have also asked for an increase in compensation from farmers to compensate them for lost revenue.”
The problem for many of these farmers, especially those living in the poorest parts of the district and in the villages, is that WERA does not include the loss they have suffered during the implementation of the scheme.
“Many farmers have lost all their income because of WERA.
The amount of loss we have suffered is quite staggering,” said Saru, a farm labourer from the Kankeri area of the city of Arundam in Aruntakot district.
“My children have gone from one village to another without any compensation, and it’s because of the WERA that they are in dire straits.”
‘Wera is not going to help us’Many farmers are still struggling to find out exactly what the WETA scheme is worth.
“Weta is not a fair way of dealing with the land problem.
It will not be fair to compensate farmers in a fair manner,” said Chinnasamy.
The state government has been unable to respond to any of the queries raised by the farmers.
“I have been demanding for a fair compensation to farmers, and I am still waiting,” said a member of Congress, adding that he would have been happy to work with the state and the Congress government.
“For a few months, we were talking about the idea of a land-grab.
But now, we will not work with anyone, and will instead ask the government for more compensation,” he added.
The Congress party has also taken up the issue with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which is allied with the BJP.
NCP spokesperson Anil Goswami said that “all the issues raised by farmers have been taken up by the BJP and they are waiting for the government to provide us with details”.