Fighting Injustice in Polepally SEZ

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

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– By K Veerabhadra Rao | TNN

Polepalli (Mahbubnagar): Exactly a month after launching his Prajarajyam party, Chiranjeevi on Friday tried to hardsell the cause of the Polepalli special economic zone (SEZ) victims. The actor said that sacrifices should not be expected from the poor for the wellness of the privileged, but those who have wealth should ponder as to what they were sacrificing for the welfare of the poor.

He said SEZs were welcome for the development of the country, but they should not be set up at the cost of the poor and by grabbing their land. Addressing a well-attended gathering, he lambasted the state government for acquiring land indiscriminately from the poor and innocent farmers for setting up SEZs.

Obviously with the intention of winning over the SEZ victims and displaced farmers, he said: “It is a status symbol for the privileged to have land but for farmers it is a sentiment. They feel that land is their mother.” Amidst thunderous applause, he said that in the Polepalli case, all the victims were either BCs, SCs, STs or minorities. “Why should the government discriminate and acquire land from them?” he sought to know. He also questioned why no politician had lost land in any of the 56 notified SEZs in the state.

Spitting fire, Chiranjeevi said the government was acting like a real estate broker for big industrial houses. “The government should spell out as to how many industries have come up in the state since 2003 on SEZ lands,” he said. Commending the SEZ victims’ ‘satyagraham’ demanding return of 845 acres of land, he said they should be given sufficient land. Saying that he was moved by their plight, he referred to Ramulu and Sankaraiah, who died after their land was acquired for SEZ. “They were happy when they had 10-12 acres of land but with the SEZ coming up, they became daily wage workers,” he said.

As the crowds thronged the makeshift dais to have a closer glimpse of the actor, Chiranjeevi asserted: “This is not development. This is not welfare of the poor.” He also referred to the SEZs coming up in the coastal belt saying that fishermen were hit hard by the proposed coastal corridor.

But sources said the SEZ victims were unhappy that Chiranjeevi did not give out any tangible promise to bring succour to their lives.

The victims were demanding Rs 10 lakh compensation for the land acquired and return of the remaining 845 acres of land.

The government had acquired 1,000 acres in 2002 for setting up the pharma SEZ, but only 155 acres were earmarked for the SEZ.

Filmy twist to Chiru visit

He never ceases to surprise. And living up to his suspense-filled script which he has been following for the past one year prior to the launch of his Prajarajyam party and after, Chiranjeevi kept everyone, including a few leaders of his party, in the dark during his whirlwind tour here on Friday.

As per the schedule, Chiranjeevi was to call on SEZ victims, who have been on a ‘satyagraham’ in the SEZ area. The victims, party activists, fans and mediamen waited there till 12 noon, but there was no trace of the megastar. Party leader Kotagiri Vidyadhara Rao, who set out along with Chiranjeevi from the latter’s house in Hyderabad at 9 am, reached the village at 11.45 am, but was shocked to learn that Chiranjeevi hadn’t landed.

But Chiranjeevi was already at Polepalli where he called on the family members of some of SEZ victims. He spent nearly two hours there and later set out for the SEZ premises. After making an emotional speech, his convoy of about 20 vehicles sped past the village towards Hyderabad even as eager fans made a dash towards his vehicle.

However, there was a twist in Chiru’s yatra, after all. Within 10 minutes of leaving the venue, he returned to the venue to meet the SEZ victims. He spent about 30 minutes with them, and left for Hyderabad.

(Courtesy: Times of India 27th Sept 2008)


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