Special Economic Zones — Colonization in a new form
“We will commit hatya, not atmahatya, like the Vidharbha farmers”,says Jaywant Madhvi of Vashi village in Pen taluk in Raigad district, just outside Mumbai. The context is land acquisition notices being served to farmers for the 35,000 acre (14,000 ha) SEZ being developed by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). On 15th August, a gram sabha was held in the Kalabusre village of the Uran taluka of the same district. This sabha was attended by over a 100 people and passed a resolution against the proposed MSEZ( Mumbai SEZ). This SEZ would be one of the largest in the country and one-third the size of the metropolis. The company and the local officials claim it is all ‘unproductive’ land whereas according to the villagers, they are twice blessed with very rich soil for rice and the sea for fishing. Says a farmer in one of the villages, “we don’t want jobs in any factory. We have our land, our trees and the sea to keep our stomachs full.”The question posed by the 1200 farmers, facing take over of their lands and displacement is that why does’nt the government develop SAZ (Special Agricultural Zones) instead of SEZs?According to informed sources, Reliance plans to convert these fields into expensive real estate, and the overnment seems to be acting as its broker, forcibly acquiring land at a pittance and handing it over to RIL to sell to businesses in the SEZ. It will be a satellite city in prime location close to the major highways, ports and site for the new international airport.Besides the 45 villages that are to be acquired, Reliance has been buying up agricultural land at cheap rates anticipating an increase in the land value in the area once the SEZ comes through. The records of the government estimate the value of the land at around 1.7 lakhs to 2.5 lakhs an acre. Reliance has been trying to buy the land at 3 to 4 lakh rupees an acre. And the market rate, depending on the quality and the location is anywhere between 20 and 40 lakhs rupees an acre now! A bridge connecting Navi Mumbai and Central Mumbai is also proposed and Reliance is one of the bidders to build up the bridge!Across Maharashtra, farmers have organized huge protests against the forcible acquisitions for this SEZ.Anil Ambani’s Reliance has also sparked a similar controversy. The acquisition of 2,500 acres of agricultural land by the UP government for the Reliance power project at Dadri (near Delhi) for Reliance Power led to massive protests by the farmers. V.P.Singh himself has chosen to spearhead the protests. The Mulayam Singh government is accused of giving a subsidy of 60% on the land prices i.e. 60% of the land price will be paid by the stategovernment and the rest by the Reliance group. Of the total land being acquired for this SEZ, 400 acres belong to the Gram Sabha for playground, school, community purposes etc. This 400 acres has been doled away to Reliance at Rs 100 per square yard for a lease of 99 years while the remaining 21,000 acres has been taken at the rate of Rs 150 per square yard. interestingly, the Mulayam Singh government had offered 25,000 acres of land to Reliance and even acquired some for it, even though this project had not even come up for approval before the Board of Approvals……….
to read complete article please sea thhe december issue of peoplesmarch by clicking the link given below-
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