VIJAYAWADA: The State Cabinet which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Tuesday, resolved to return the 2,180 acres of land notified for acquisition for the Kakinada Special Economic Zone (KSEZ) to farmers. It is probably the second such instance in the country after Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal, where the lands notified for the Special Economic Zones were returned to the farmers following their opposition to the projects.
“People of six villages -- Srirampuram, Bandipeta, Mummidivaripodu, Pativaripalem, Ravivaripodu and Ramaraghavapuram -- need not be vacated as proposed by the previous governments. Further, all the burial grounds taken away from these villages will be returned. Moreover, the restrictions imposed on land transactions in these villages under 22A of the Registration Act will be lifted,” Minister for Information and Public Relations Perni Venkataramaiah (Nani) told mediapersons, while briefing the Cabinet decisions.
The decision was taken based on the recommendations of the committee set up by the government with Agriculture Minister K Kannababu as its chairman in January. The committee submitted its report to the Chief Minister on Tuesday. The Cabinet also decided to provide Rs 5 lakh more per acre to 657 acres of land notified for the SEZ in addition to the already announced compensation by the government and GMR company, so that the farmers will not be hit.
Most importantly, all the cases registered against the farmers during protests against acquisition of their lands for the KSEZ, will be withdrawn.The return of lands to the farmers will be the culmination of more than a decade-long struggle of Kakinada farmers, who refused to give up their lands.
In the late ’90s, Kakinada Seaports Limited (KSPL), which was managing Kakinada Deep Water Port, as part of its expansion plan proposed the multipurpose Special Economic Zone abutting the seaport. The then TDP government cleared the SEZ proposal, which was later sanctioned. The process of land acquisition for the SEZ was taken up by the subsequent Congress government as per the Centre’s decision.
More than 10,000 acres of land was notified for the SEZ in U Kothapalli and Thondangi mandals of East Godavari district. Some land was acquired by the State government and provided it to the KSPL and some portion of land was privately acquired by the company.
Meanwhile, there was a stiff resistance to the SEZ and some farmers even took legal recourse, while some refused to give up their lands under any circumstances. In 2011, the KSEZ became a subsidiary of GMR company. In 2012, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu supported the agitation of farmers and promised to protect their lands. But after forming the government, only a compensation hike for the land was proposed, which was rejected by the agitating farmers. They ploughed the notified land as part of their protest before the last Assembly elections.
During his Praja Sankalpa Yatra, YSRC chief Jagan Mohan Reddy in Pithapuram, assured the agitating farmers that once his government comes to power in the State, he will see that the lands are returned to them and villages exempted from the purview of KSEZ.
“Unlike TDP chief Naidu, Jagan kept his promise made to the farmers,” Perni Nani said. The Cabinet made it clear that none of the industrial units coming up in the Kakinada SEZ will be allowed to release the effluents outside the zone and they have to be treated at a separate place. Similarly Divi’s Labs in Tuni should also treat the effluents on its own, the Minister said.
People of 6 villages need not move from their places as they were exempted from the purview of Kakinada SEZ
A sum of Rs 5 lakh more will be paid to farmers for 656 acres of notified land for Special Economic Zone