No Land Should be Forcibly Acquired for Private and PPP Projects
Mumbai, August 1: The decision of the Maharashtra Government to cancel 4 SEZ projects which were proved to be illegal & unjust, on one ground or other, brings a hope to the people’s struggles for justice & against land grabbing. These projects were stalled by the common people, farmers to fishworkers, and women as well as youngsters who were at the forefront of the struggle.
The issues were clear & justifiable. Land to be acquired for private corporates is an illegitimate and unconstitutional act. When the profit-motives are clear in these projects, earning crores of rupees, out of land & other sources of livelihood, these resources are received with the State facilitating them. It’s this role of the State which is bullying & ousting our rural folk that was objected by the natural resource based communities, asserting their right to approve or disapprove the project which the State government has ultimately admitted.
The non-violent struggles are raising basic questions of inequity which is a clear outcome of SEZ Act & similar moves promoting corporatisation. We question and oppose industries which are land & water-intensive, capital intensive but not labour intensive and their impacts on ecologies, neither mitigated nor compensated. It is unfortunate the more sustainable & employment generating, local resource-based industries proposed by the movements as alternative options are negated by the governments. People are certainly not for the industrialisation at the cost of agricultural, since food security and livelihood is certainly our first priority. The whole model of SEZ with subsidised land, water, electricity, outside the jurisdiction of the gram sabhas and panchayats, tax holidays and exemptions is a blot on democracy and sovereignty of both, people & the State.
It’s obvious that all tactics & manoeuvring efforts by the Corporates failed in this regard & the State level ministers couldn’t carry out their initial agenda of joining hands with Corporates earning out of these projects. It’s, however, an ultimate victory of the firm view, clear perspective & perseverent strategy, along with an all pervasive analysis of the fraud that SEZ Act & projects are. Maharashtra cabinet too deserves a pat for this pro-people decision. Even though this is later, but better late than never. They should, without any delay must remove restrictions & reservations put up, on the titles of the landholders. If this cancellation is to bring in another project like Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor at the cost of farms & farmers, that will also face the same fate, we warn. We continue to fight the battle for cancellation of the undemocratic & unconstitutional SEZ Act, 2005.
We would also like to mention that the proposed amendments being brought out by the UPA government to the SEZ Act is not going to alter our opposition to the Act since, they are only aimed at facilitating land grab. Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act is also going to facilitate the land grab for private corporations and we oppose this. People’s Movements will thwart every attempt at subverting the laws of the country and handing over the precious natural resources to the predatory corporations. It’s time the governments across the country listened to the voices of dissent and worked in favour of the majority of the population.
Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe, Suniti S. R., Medha Patkar
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