Farmers Reclaim their Land illegally allotted to Ajanta SEZ in Aurangabad
NAPM Condemns Police Firing on Protesters Opposing NTPC Coal Mines in Karanpura, Jharkhand Killing Two and Injuring Others
New Delhi / Aurangabad, July 23 : Villagers of Shendra today reclaimed the land which was illegally transferred by Maharashtra Industrial Corporation to Ajanta Co to set up Pharma SEZ in MIDC Five Star Indusrtail Area, Shendra, Aurangabad. The action was supported and joined by noted social activist, Medha Patkar, Adviser and Founding Member NAPM, Balwant More, Rashtra Sewa Dal, Nanded, Maj Subedar Bam, Subhash Lomte of Socialist Front and others. Nearly 300 farmers from nearby villages also gathered with bullocks and tractors and tilled the land which was under illegal occupation of the company since 2008. Police, which never filed an FIR against the company after repeated complaints, came today defending the right of the Company, showing its anti people character.
In 2007-8, 35 Hectares of prime agricultural land, percolation tanks, village roads etc. was handed by the Dsitrict Administration to the Ajanta Projects India Limited without completing any land acquistion process under MIDC Act as mandated. False notices were issued, compensation paid receipts were given and land was said to be taken under possession by the Land Acquistion Officer. Based on the land allotted to them by Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation the Company obtained approval for Pharmaceutical and related Chemical Special Economic Zone from Union government. Till date no work has started on the project but Company continues to illegally occupy the land after erecting fences on the land of the farmers and tank.
Farmers were illegally evicted from their land in collaboration with the district Sub Divisional Officer, Police officials and others. Later, under the Right to Information Act, they got information from various agencies, which supported their claim to land. Tahsildar on duty on 27 November 2009 said that 35 Hectares of land in question was not acquired by the authorities, confirmed also by the Executive Engineer Minor Irrigation in a reply dated October 29, 2009. Farmers filed complaint to the police with copies to senior district officials, Industry Ministers and Union Commerce Ministry. However, till date no action was taken.
In meantime false cases were filed against some of the villagers in order to terrify them and pacify their resistance. Recently, on a petition filed by Bhanudas Gopinath of the village Shendra resulted in injunction from Aurangabad bench of High Court. This emboldened the morale of the 50 families whose land was illegally transferred.
“We are only exercising our right and not committing any crime. None of the government records show that right procedure was followed under MIDC Act, 1961 to acquire land in this case, on the contrary records show the ownership with Bhanudas and other farmers of the village Shendra. It is completely right for the tillers of the land to reclaim it and start farming. We demand that the responsible revenue and police officers be prosecuted immediately for forgery and misrepresentation of facts in the case; revocation of the status of SEZ granted to Ajanta co.; de-notify the land and recognise the right of the farmers over the total land, since company has failed to initiate any work till date,” said Medha Patkar.
She further added that it is high time that a Special Investigation team be constituted to look in to the fraudulent land dealings which has been ongoing around Aurangabad town where farmers are being cheated. Land mafia till date has transacted nearly 30-40% of the 2,34,000 Hectares of land to be acquired for Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Greater Aurangabad and Aurangabad Metropolitan City project. No notification has been issued by the authorities but illegal and fraudulent transactions are being enacted and a speculative land market is today flourishing around the city. Media reports are often being planted fuelling stress selling by the farmers at times but no clear information is being given on the DMIC and other projects coming to the farmers. In coming days NAPM will continue to expose such land dealings, support the people’s resistance and assist in building of the movement against the DMIC and other projects in Aurangabad.
NAPM also condemns the killing of two activists of Karnpura Bachao Sangharsh Samiti in a police firing today morning at Chatti Bariahattu Karanpura Jharkhand. They have been leading a valiant fight against the land acquisition for NTPC coal mines. In 2005, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) acquired mining lease for captive mining in an area covering 16 villages of 3 blocks- Pankiri Barwadi, Chatti Bariyatu and Keredari in Hazaribagh District of Jharkhand. Today the total number of villages to be displaced has risen to 60, with the total affected population being close to 40,000 as opposed to 16,000 which is the claim made by the company. From 2005 till date mining has not begun and any attempt of starting work has been thwarted by the Gram Sabha resolutions and also active resistance from the people, who are to loose prime agricultural land in Karanpura Valley. It seems Hemant Soren, newly sowrn in Chief Minister is determined to push Corporate Agenda, but people’s resistance will continue to fight to defend their land, water and forests which are necessary for survival of the nation and people.
Vilas Bhongade, Suniti S R, Dr. Sunilam, Prafulla Samantara, Suhas Kolhekar, Gabriele Dietrich, Sister Celia, Major General (Retd.) Sudhir Vombatkere, Arundhati Dhuru, C R Neelakandan, Geo Jose, Bhupender Singh Rawat, Kamayani Swami, Mahendra Yadav, Rajendra Ravi, Vimal Bhai, Seela M, Madhuresh Kumar