Fighting Injustice in Polepally SEZ

…more than courage it takes WILL to stand up against injustice !

Update : Polepally Public hearing

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Sujatha Surepally

BalaGopal addressing the Public Hearing

BalaGopal addressing the Public Hearing

Public Hearing on Polepally SEZ was held on 7 August in Polepally. It was organized on the main the entrance leading to the Polepally SEZ at 11 a.m.

Public hearing panel included Balagopal, Ratnamala, Hema Venkat Rao, and Pashyam Yadagiri. Speakers from Maharashtra and Nirup Reddy couldn’t attend due to some urgent programmes. Representatives of several organizations took part in the public hearing expressing solidarity with the Polepally struggle. There were representatives from Bhumika, Chaitanya Mahila Samakya, Dalit Social Forum, Human Rights Forum, Kula Nirmulana Porata Samiti, Musi TV, Praja Kala Mandalai, Samaana Vidya Sadhana Committee, Shramika Shakti Sanghatana, Telangana Journalist Forum, Telangana Sangarshana Samiti, Virasam among others

Print and electronic media also attended in big way. They spoke to farmers, participants and the delegates form various parts of the state. There were also students from Hyderabad in big number. Vanaja and Dileep made the documentary on the issue and covered the Public Hearing

The panel of jurists went around the SEZ affected villages and interacted with the people before starting the Public Hearing. They visited Polepally, Gundla Gadda Thanda and Pharma construction area. Balagopal spoke to tribal women and other farmers in the Thanda and enquired about their situation. There were more than 50 students from Hyderabad who came to interact with the villagers fighting against the SEZ.

SEZ lords did everything possible to disturb the Public Hearing. They tried to destroy the spirit of farmers. Villagers who could not get any wage labour in the past 5 days in the company were offered work on the day of the pubic hearing. SEZ agents purposefully called many farmers to unload cement bags in the construction site. Mudireddypally, Gundla Gadda thanda villagers were offered many incentives that they will get some agencies and better payment etc. They also tried to break the unity among farmers by giving work to selected people so that they fight among themselves.

Yet all the Polepally SEZ Vyathireka Ikya Sanghtana members joined the public hearing. And there were several solidarity groups also. Solidarity groups raised the morale of the villagers to put up more determined fight against the SEZ atrocities.

The programme started with a song by Gopal & team of Praja kala Mandali. The song narrated the loss of livelihoods and the forces pushing our villages and lifer into crisis. Panelists were introduced and testimonies of farmers were invited from all the affected villages. Sarpanch Bala Swamy Goud, Rafeeq farmer, Etti Yadaiah, Laxmamma, Rangamma, Mogulamma and others explained their situation and the injustices suffered by them.

Raoof, an old farmer said he refused to give his 15 acres of land. But the SEZ lords included his land also into their boundary. When he asked how this is done without even making any payments for the land they said it is with the court. Mr. M.A Rafeeq explained how they were cheated by the Govt officials and political parties with false promises, Memu atma hathyalu chesukuntunte Amerikodu bagu padalna? Idekkadi nyaayam? He questioned why these farmers must die while the American companies make profits? They explained the process of land grabbing by the APIIC and the politicians and the atrocities unleashed against the villagers. They explained how they were pushed to challenge the injustice and the struggle they put up. They told how much land they lost and how much they got and what life they are leading now. There were also clarifications in between with farmers by Balagopal and others. On what basis they have signed the documents and what are the promises they made before acquisition of land. Madhu gave Land Award copies to Balgopal for him to study legal aspect of the land acquisitions. The final message from farmers is that they are not going to compromise with the situation and the crisis. They are going to fight for their land and justice. If organizations like this support them they are encouraged and ready to take any step that is required for the movement.

Balagopal, Convenor, Human Rights Forum spoke. He explained that in the Award copy it was written that majority of farmers had given their lands voluntarily and out of their own interest. After listening to the villagers it reveals that the documents and land awards are based on total false statements, he said. He explained the rights of the farmers and the entitlements they have and the questionable process in which they were looted of their lands by the APIIC. His talk gave the villagers great encouragement. He said there are only two movements going on today in Andhra Pradesh- one is Kakinada SEZ (Coastal Corridor SEZ) and other is Polepally SEZ. He also answered some of the points made by the Villagers in their testimonies. Balgopal said Polepally fight is the real fight, farmers are showing their interest and coming forward with new ideas and thoughts every time in response to the crisis and the deepening crisis. He explained legal perspective on how Govt has resorted to cheating the poor. In Polepally case he said there are many flaws in the approach and process of land acquisition. It’s all illegal, he said.

There was a G.O. 1307 which says that there shouldn’t be any discrepancy to assigned lands. The Govt rate is 28,000/- and it should add 8% to that so it will come around 32,000/- the cheapest of the cheap rate. But even that was not properly made in Polepally assigned lands. They offered only 18,000/- an amount which is lower than the Govt rate itself! And even that price was not received fully by most of the farmers.
In 1992, it is decided that a district level committee must sit with people and plan.
In 2004 High court gave a judgment that there should be a 12 member committee at district level with District Judge and it should conduct Grama Sabha and after discussing with farmers or groups the committee should take a decision. After that there must be a state level committee to follow it up, and land compensation should be given equally to all lands.
In 2005, G.O. 68 says that if land is given to poor households it will not be taken back under any circumstances. Govt has to leave such land from any acquisition. And nothing in these lands should be done by anybody below the rank of a joint collector who could have a dialogue with people and examine any such issues.
Any rehabilitation offer is invalid and incomplete if its just a house, as its being offered by the APIIC. Any rehabilitation package should have a school, a hospital and every infrastructure a village must have to be a meaningful community living.

Unfortunately, in Polepally, nothing mentioned above is happening. We have the right to file a case and start from the scratch. Shuru nunchi modalu pedadam. malli manam adugudam ..mana bathukulu manam brathukudam..chattaniki lobadi adugudam..deeniki kosam rastha roko chestama, nirbandham chesthama alochinchukundam..Ma human rights forum mathram meekosam munduku nadustundi..meetho kalisi untundi..We can still stop the constructions and fight further land acquisition in Polepalli, he told.

Hemalatha, activist from Coastal Corridor said that all human rights violations were seen in this SEZ Act. We have even lost the right of living our life, she told. In Kakinada SEZ, against violation of SEZ rights, we fought for women’s right, we have youth wing and every event is recorded. In our area they started rehabilitation package, we demolished it on women’s day as we rejected the idea that only man should get a job. When a man and women can work why only man should have a job. This is in violation of community norms where we all men and women work for supporting ourselves and our families. If this simple truth the law makers don’t know and make absurd policies they have to face our wrath and our rejection of all such silly policies, she told. They have to accept the community spirit of gender equity among the poor communities.

She also said that Kakinada SEZ is different from Polepally. The farmers are much more advanced than Telangana. She explained the false promises of SEZs and their game of Kakinada type. She rxplained how people were divided by agents of political parties and organizations. Politicians and brokers are one of the major beneficiaries of the SEZ atrocities, she told.

Rathamala gave a picture of Polepally that they have not just lost ‘disha ‘ n diksuchi’ in their untiring struggle and endless journey over the years causing frustration and agony at times but in fact have become the vision for the entire country and the path and inspiration for all people’s struggles. Polepally struggle is not for their own lands but it’s a struggle for protecting our farm lands and the dignity of people who are self reliant and who honor self respect above everything. Polepally farmers are not only asking for their livelihoods and lives, culture but asking for all those who are living in villages who are threatened of the evil eye of SEZ and corporate greed.

When one can forcibility take people’s land for the SEZ companies, why cant they take it back from the companies, she asked. memu ma bhumule kadu, desamlo unna anni bhumulanu kapadutham antunna Polepally prajalu eppudu adarshanga untaru. repu maro nandigram vasthe evaru em chstaru? she asked. We are not going to protect only our fields and farmlands, but the lands in the entire country. We will fight against forced land displacements and arrest another Nandigram

Apache Company says that in their area, all people are wearing jeans and other dresses for first, they call it ‘development’ but my question is how man are wearing them? If 30 of them are wearing jeans about 300 farmers are dying and living dead. How many today see this truth? Why do they give land to poor and take them away whenever they want the lands which are transformed and cared with their sweat and labor for ages? Who gives this right to the government to deprive the poor of their lands? There is a woman who had 13 abortions due to pollution, she cannot become mother any more. Why this pollution and poisonous development? Why we lose our wombs, we need to question these issues also before talking whether the land acquisition process is legal or not? SEZ development is inhuman in the first place, she said

I am proud of Polepally farmers who said that they may be poor in education but not in their concern and spirit to fight for their self respect, poratalaku epudu mundutunnaru they said and that’s what is guiding the world, and that what will be guiding us in future, she said. Polepally people are never backward; they are far advanced than the greedy and selfish world. I am glad that they we still have people like Polepally farmers to fight for justice.

Ratnamala suggested that we should sensitize all the opposition MLA before the next assembly session and see that it is questioned in the assembly, she also proposed for a network of all struggles movements.

Kondaveeti Satyavathi told that they are going to document all the stories of women and they are going to be with the struggle. Silalolitha also said that, Mattini nammukonna varu matti kottukuni poyaru..Polepally is a Samudram, everyone here is an Uppena, a tide. Polepally several stories of inspiration and sufferings that we see here and we are going to be with Polepally struggle, she told

Charles Wesley Mesa spoke that, SEZ is in any respect is illegal, whether its human rights perspective or development perspective. There is opposition to the SEZ projects all over the country. He expressed there is need to also join hands with other people in different parts of the country who are fighting against the SEZ. He expressed his solidarity with Polepally movement. Chaitanya Mahila Samakya , Jyothi akka spoke that they are glad to be here and they are with the movement.

Several others expressed solidarity and shared their view of the Polepally struggle.

The future course of action was also briefly discussed. We would be coordinating with Anti SEZ Andhra Pradesh Committee and meet all opposition parties and seek their support against the SEZ atrocities. We will organize dharna and rasta rokos and also be filing a case with the support of Balgopal to stop the construction of Pharma SEZ.

Jai Telangana !


Written by Sujatha Surepally

August 8, 2008 at 2:45 am

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  1. […] Shakti Sanghatana, Telangana Journalist Forum, Telangana Sangarshana Samiti, Virasam among others (Read More…) Articles, English, Polepally | Comment […]

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