Fighting Injustice in Polepally SEZ

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

Polepally SEZ oustees pour out woes to Chiru

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Express News Service | HYDERABAD:  Praja Rajyam party president Chiranjeevi’s visit today to Polepally, near Jadcherla, in Mahaboobnagar district where a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is to come up evoked mixed reactions from the farmers whose lands had been acquired by the government for a ‘‘pittance’’.

Though he was quite vocal in coming down on the State Government for ‘‘mortgaging’’ the interests of farmers to major industrial houses, his silence on how he would do justice to them left some villagers disheartened.

As the film actor’s arrival had been given wide publicity much in advance, a number of people from the neighbouring villages thronged Polepally to see the actor in flesh and blood, and listen to him. He interacted with those ousted from their lands there. He heard their woeful stories and tried to console them.

At the Polepally tribal hamlet (thanda), a family which lost around 30 acres met Chiranjeevi and poured out its miseries. Chandi and Rodya, the elders of the family, said that their lands were taken over by the government in 2003 and they lost their livelihood. The government paid a meagere Rs 18,000 per an acre as compensation whereas a land near their thanda was sold for Rs 9 lakh per acre. Now they became outsiders in their own village, they lamented.

Chiranjeevi met Ellamma and Chennaih whose family lost about ten acres of land and was told how their green pastures were turned into barren lands by burning the grass. Now they even don’t have fodder for their cattle, they alleged. They said that some farmers who lost their lands died of heart attack.

The new political star also met anti-SEZ movement activists and assured them of all support from his party. ‘‘While some States are asking SEZ developers to buy the required land directly from the farmers for establishing industrial parks, here the government is virtually grabbing the lands in the name of public welfare and handing over them to land sharks.’’ He expressed astonishment at how the government was giving away thousands of acres of lands to developers without scrutinising their projects’ export and job potentialities. ‘‘Why are developers rushing to our State?’’ he asked and answered it himself in an angry tone: ‘‘It is because our government does not ask any questions.’’ He said he did not understand why the poor were made to sacrifice when the rich had to make scarifies for the benefit of the poor.

However, the anti-SEZ activists were disappointed that their voice was not heard by the ‘new messiah’.

The activists were on a hunger strike in a tent in the SEZ area. When Chiranjeevi addressed them from a distance and went away without meeting them, they got offended. While Chiranjeevi was addressing the gathering, the tent was uprooted by the frenzied mob. In the melee, some activists were trampled upon and injured.

Learning of the unsavoury incident, Chiranjeevi came back to the place and spent some time with them. Even while he was pacifying the people, there was another stampede in which two women, Laxmamma and Balamma, were injured and lost their consciousness. They were taken to a hospital for treatment.

(Courtesy: The New Indian Express – 27th Sept 2008)

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