Fighting Injustice in Polepally SEZ

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Condemn Land Grabbing

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Condemn Land Grabbing from poor farmers in the name of SEZ in Polepally

Background

Displaced and harassed farmers of Polepally village of Jedcharla Block in Mahboobnagar District have been struggling since five years. They are against forced acquisition of their lands by Andhra Pradesh Infrastructure and Industrial Corporation (APIIC).

The APIIC, an undertaking of AP government first identified an area of 1000 acres of land in three villages viz., Polepally, Mudureddypally and Gundlagadda Thanda in Jedcharla Block of Shamshabad way back in 2001.

Initially the villagers were told that a green park is going to be launched there. And land acquisitions started in that name. In 2003 the APIIC made started aggressively grabbing the land form the poor farmers. In the following years various tactics were used to coerce the communities into giving up their lands. Acquisitions were later carried out for a Pharmaceutical Special Economic Zone Polepally village, Jedcharla Mandal, Mahboobnagar district is spread over 250 acres. The SEZ has received a formal approval from the Ministry of Commerce when Special Economic Zone Act 2005 was introduced at the Centre.

The SEZ Act is meant for corporate sector, both local and multinational capitalist interests. IUN Polepally it is having additional dimension as the tool of a casteist aggression. Because all the lands acquired belong to predominantly dalits, scheduled tribes and some backward communities. All neighboring lands of the upper castes are clearly excluded form any exclusions! SEZ in Polepally fulfills a casteist capitalist combine of ruling classes having their representatives in every sphere of governance- bureaucracy, elected representatives, section of media among others – that is ever willing to sacrifice people’s interests before the lure of money bags.

SEZ is here to loot thousands of acres of land from poor peasants. Govt has become a real estate broker throwing to winds the constitutional promises of social justice and welfare of the poorest. Current rulers have moved far away from sort of ‘Self Reliance’ to ‘Help Reliance’ and serve interests of all desi videsi corporate groups. SEZ is the special means for that loot in which the state would offer resources and people’s entitlements in silver plate to the money bags! Now it is Reliance, Tata, Aurobindo, Adidas, Saleem Groups, Satyam, WIPRO and others who are most important and justifying the sacrifice of thousands and millions of poor people of the country.

Government has become a mafia resorting to all illegal means of looting lands of the poor in Polepally SEZ. They grabbed land for paltry amounts like Rs 5000 to Rs 6000 per acre in Gundlagadda Thanda, Mudireddypalli and Polepally villages. Some farmers did not even get that amount.

Forty one farmers have lost their lives in these villages because of SEZ looting their lands. Farmers with self pride have suddenly become beggars in their own lands and “bonded labourers” of a fate worse than death. They are now forced to work for SEZ in the farm lands that once belonged to them. Part of the acquired land in Polepally, around 300 acres, was once given to dalits and the poor as assigned lands during the regime of Indira Gandhi. Current Indiramma Rajyam of YSR- Sonia type has made them paupers and their women into widows and children into orphans

Affected farmers pleaded every political party and officials for justice. But in vain. Promises of good houses, jobs and other facilities vanished into thin air once their lands slipped off their hands. Now they are beggars, and are jailed and beaten by authorities and mafia. All political parties including Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) are responsible for the deaths of Polepally farmers.

The deceived and exploited farmers continued their struggle into by-elections held in May 2008. The affected farmers wanted to voice their woes and expose how they are cheated by one and all here in the name of all-important-SEZ. Thirteen members (Smt Mala Jangilamma; Smt Satyamma; Smt Mogulamma; Depalli Chinna Venkanna; Depalli Yadaiah; Kanduri Kurmaiah; Kanduri Narasimha; Etti Lingaiah;Etti Srinivasulu; Harijana Danaiah; Gopala Krishna, Seenaiah Ggoud, Ravula Krishnaiah) of the poor farmers contested in the by-elections to tell the world that these political parties have mortgaged interests of the poor before the SEZ lords. They appealed to citizens of the land and all those concerned that SEZ specter is going to kill the farmers now and everyone gradually and destroy our natural resources also.

Facing the mainstream political parties is no small thing. Politicians and local officials harassed the contestants and the people of Polepally. Poor people were terrorized. They were abducted and threatened of dire consequences if they don’t withdraw or don’t campaign for the Congress party. They were threatened and ‘advised by well meaning activists’ to withdraw nominations because it is time NOW to support the TRS candidate who is sitting MLA. Farmers who contested were denied of permission for using mikes, holding public meetings, vehicles and finally the contestants were also abducted on 23 May. They were released later because of local people’s pressure and the media coverage of the heinous crimes of the ruling party and local officials

All other political parties are silently supporting the murder of democracy in Polepally. Anti SEZ farmers committee appealed all democratic sections to condemn atrocities against the poor and violation of the election norms.

Contestants became popular as ‘Polepally thirteen’. They challenged all ruling parties with their strong conviction and faith in people’s wisdom. They gained more than 8,600 votes to great surprise of every observer in the state when each vote was precious and so expensive!

Polepally, however, is gaining people’s support. Several activists who are working on SEZs visited Polepally and supported their struggle. Many leading newspapers reported the struggle and electoral battle. Polepally SEZ Vyathireka Ikya Sanghatana organized series of Dharnas and meetings in State and local level. Recently the committee submitted memorandum to APIIC. There were 200 farmers in the dharna at APIIC in Hyderabad. Head of Nava Telangana Praja Party also joined the people in dharna. Some other political parties are also now talking of the atrocities in the name of Polepally SEZ.

But the exploitation and starvation in Polepally is unchecked even today. One lady recently made suicide attempt.

It is time to express solidarity with the farmers struggle against SEZ and demand withdrawal of SEZ. It is time to say self respect and entitlements of the poor are not to be sacrificed in favor of the greed of the rich

Demand justice to poor people of Polepally SEZ and give back lands to the poor farmers
Demand withdrawal of Polepally SEZ immediately

Save Mahboobnagar from the poisonous Pharma industry that is banned elsewhere

Polepally is all Violations

  • Forced Acquisition of Land using the Land Acquisition Act – Despite the repeated opposition and protests 300 acres of land in Mudureddypally and 700 acres in Polepally the land was acquired by the APIIC. The total number of affected families – 80 families in Mudureddypally and 300 families in Polepally, Gundlagadda Thanda were directly affected by the land acquisition
  • Use of coercive tactics by the local revenue administration and local representatives – Consistent threats were used by the local administration that compensation amounts would be reduced if the land were not transferred to the APIIC. Local MLA Mr Laxma Reddy and other political parties not only supported the project but also used various methods to coerce the people into selling their lands
  • No information about the Project to the communities – The communities had no clue that the SEZ and the APIIC Green Industrial Park were two separate projects. There is no information given to the affected people about the nature of these projects
  • Acquisition of Assigned Lands belonging to SC, ST and BCs – The acquired land comprises of 300 acres in Mudureddypally and 700 acres in Polepally of which 300 acres were ceiling lands assigned to Dalits and Tribals during the regime of Indira Gandhi. All these assigned lands were cultivated by the households. The government has initiated use of ‘alienated’ assigned lands under an amendment made in 2006 in the A.P Assigned Lands (Prohibition of Transfers) Act, 1977. But in this particular case none of the lands were alienated. In fact they formed the only source of livelihood for the poor farmers.
  • Discrimination in compensation amounts and rampant corruption – Land losers received varying rates of compensation. While the people who lost assigned lands were given only Rs. 18,000/acre those with regular pattas received from 1 to 1.25 lakh per acre. For the lands closer to the Highway the compensation rates were higher. The same lands are now being given to private companies for about 60 lakhs an acre. Further there are many families who haven’t received the entire compensation amount. While some have received 50% there are more than 15 families who have not received any compensation at all.
  • No Public Hearing for Environment Clearance – Despite this being a Pharma SEZ project there has been no Public Hearing on the Environmental impacts of the project and no information made available about the clearance to the project. Construction work on the project has already been initiated this year by Aurobindo Pharma
  • No inquiry into unnatural deaths of farmers – This village never had any cases of farmers suicides or farmer distress related deaths in the past when there were farmers’ suicides in the state due to drought and other factors. But with SEZ there came suicide cases and 41 unnatural deaths amongst the land losing families. Locals claim that this is due to indebtedness and poverty induced by forced loss of lands. So far no inquiries have been made into unnatural deaths!

 

Fol Pamplets of 7th August event click on

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Written by Polepally InSolidarity

July 30, 2008 at 4:42 am

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