Poor Farmers Wield Google Against the State

For once, poor people have turned the tables, using technology to protect themselves against the rich.

“Some 140 kilometers from Mumbai, farmers are turning to technology to fight for their rights. Four months ago, Pen Taluka’s farmers were told that the State government was acquiring their land to help build the 25,000 acre Maha Mumbai SEZ. That’s when Arun Shivkar, an activist of the SEZ Hatao Virodh Samiti logged onto to Google Earth. “We used Google technology to prove to the authorities that the land is fertile,” says Shivkar. He 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. That means lower compensation for the farmers. But Google Earth has come to the rescue and it’s 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.”

Anon. 2006. “Farmers Use Google Earth to Get Right Compensation.” Moneycontrol.com (October).



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