Published On : Mon, Oct 15th, 2018

Land scam under SEZ pretext, farmers to stage hunger-strike at Jantar Mantar

Chhindwara/Nagpur: The tribal farmers in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh are planning to stage indefinite hunger strike at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. The farmers alleged 5000 acre land scam as they have lost their land to a nexus of government officials-lawyer-middlemen under the pretext of development of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Chhindwara district. The tribals are angry after finding laxity in the probe being carried out by the District Collector. They have demanded action against the District Collector, Chief Executive Officer and others.

In a memorandum of demands, the tribal farmers have warned that the District Collector would be held responsible for violence and casualties during their agitation. The Delhi police have permitted agitation at Jantar Mantar for one day instead of indefinite hunger strike.

While interacting with Nagpur Today, the leader of farmers’ agitation, Nandkishore Dhoble of Kelvad in Saoner Tehsil, District Nagpur, said the Central Government had in 2007 announced setting up of SEZ in Saunsar region of Chhindwara district . The place is adjacent to Kelvad village on MP-Maharashtra border. Accordingly an agreement was done between M/s Chhindwara Plus Developers Company and MP Trade and Investment Facilitation Corporation (MPTRIFAC). Initially, the government had permitted acquisition of 2000 hectare (5000 acre) land. The land was to be acquired according to Land Acquisition Act 1984. It was also agreed to extend all facilities to the land owners in accordance with 2002 Adarsh rehabilitation policy. In the deal, the stamp duty was waived to the company by the government.

However, violating the terms and conditions of the agreement, the concerned authorities as well as the said company purchased 5000 acre land of farmers of eight villages between 2007 and 2013 based on “private talks” on the pretext of SEZ. The farmers were not given market value of the land. Moreover, the office of Sub-Registrar allegedly waived stamp duty of the company, Dhoble claimed and added the farmers complained that no legal procedures were observed in the land acquisition process. The land acquired earlier has been obtained through dubious means.

Dhoble further said that RTI reply revealed that the Director General of Stamps and Registrations had not issued any direction to office of Sub-Registrar , Saunsar, foe waiving stamp duty of the said company. The RTI reply had further revealed that the offices of District Collector, Sub-Divisional Officer, Saunsar and other concerned offices had not permitted the M/s Chhindwara Plus Developers Company to acquire land of farmers based on “private talks.” No public notice was also published regarding Special Economic Zone project.

“After the announcement of SEZ project, no kind of resolution was passed by the concerned Gram Panchayat. Even after eleven years of SEZ announcement, not a single industrial unit has been set providing employment to locals. The land acquired earlier has been obtained through dubious means. Mostly poor and marginal farmers were targeted through touts, and were relieved of their land for paltry amounts,” Dhoble said.

The farmers had on April 2, 2018, staged indefinite hunger strike in Satnoor village for justice to the affected farmers. The government at that time, sensing deteriorating situation, had doled out assurances and ended the 9-day agitation. But even after five months, no justice has been provided to the farmers.

Dhoble said that the farmers demanded scrapping of the SEZ project and lands of farmers to be restored to them.