Terming Special Economic Zones coming up in different states as "exploitation zones", noted social activist and environmentalist Medha Patkar has said that a large number of people were being evicted from their lands in the name of economic development.
Speaking to reporters at Oragadam near in Kancheepuram last night after visiting people whose lands were acquired for expansion of Chennai airport and setting up of SEZ on a 500 acre plot in the district, she said acquisition of the land by governments violated fundamental rights of people to live in their land.
Patkar,who attended a meeting of 'SEZ Opposition Movement and the Movement to Restore Life resources to Agriculturists', said thousands of poor people had lost their land in the name of economic development and industrialisation in Orissa, Mumbai and Bangalore.
However, in Nandigram in West Bengal it did not succeed due to the stiff resistance by the people, she said, adding that the Narmada Bachao Andholan was also a success due to the resistance from local people. The second stage of the Sardar Sarovar project was not implemented only because of public opposition, she said.
She alleged that companies were "grabbing" lands from the poor with support of governments. The lands given to the poor under various social welfare schemes was being taken away. "Reversing the programmes of Gandhiji and Vinoba Bhave, the state was rendering people landless and resourceless,"she said
She asked the people 'never to believe' rehabilitation and compensation packages when lands were acquired, as these were never implemented.
"Cash can never compensate the loss of land', she said, adding that panchayat leaders must refuse to let the privileges and independence of their people to be taken away.