labels: industry - general, economy - general
SEZs versus farmlands — farmers feel cheated: CNBC-TV18 news
10 October 2006

In East Godavari, the rice bowl of Andhra Pradesh, known for its paddy fields, the state government plans to build the Kakinanda SEZ. Already 4,500 acres of the required 8,000 have been acquired. Most of it is farmland.

Sudeshan Reddy, joint collector, East Godavari, says, "Out of the 8,000 acres of land only 350 is government land, the remaining is totally agricultural, but most of it is single crop, rain fed. Ninety per cent of the land we are acquiring is paddy land."

But farmers tell a different story. Those who have received notices claim the fields produce more than two crops a year. But officials refuse to acknowledge this because statements from the central government forbid them from acquiring double-crop land.

Paddy Farmer, Perimal Kothabai said, "I grow three crops of paddy a year on my land, Rs3 lakh an acre is insufficient compensation. I won''t sell my land for just that much."

But there is another problem here, farmers who grow crops other than paddy like mango, eucalyptus, cashew and groundnut claim that the government has classified their land as "barren" and at the rate of Rs3 lakh an acre, the land is being highly undervalued.

Appa Rao, a eucalyptus farmer, says that officials made him fingerprint a document he did not understand. It declared his land barren!

Eucalyptus farmer, Mallipedi Appa Rao Perimal Kothabai, said, "The government authorities asked me to sign on a paper that said there is nothing growing on this land, it''s dry and barren. The document was in English so I didn''t understand it. My land is worth more than Rs3 lakh an acre."

District officials accept that might have happened, but they say the farmer won''t lose out.

Joint collector Reddy, however, said, "Even if the land is classified as barren, we are offering the same compensation to every one, so it will not affect the farmer."

Farmers say the package of Rs3 lakh per acre and Rs40,000 for a home is paltry compensation for the most fertile land in the state. And jobs offered at the SEZ have been made only to those who have passed standard 10. That''s just 100 out of 2,500 farmers here. This rice bowl then might not feed its farmers much longer.

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SEZs versus farmlands — farmers feel cheated: CNBC-TV18