The Centre’s decision to ask state governments to withdraw from land acquisition process for the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is likely to create another hurdle for Reliance Group’s Mahamumbai SEZ to be set up in Raigad.
Buoyed by the Centre’s decision, anti-SEZ protestors in Raigad are now demanding that the state government should withdraw the notices sent to farmers to acquire their land.
Ironically, the government is in the last stages of completing land acquisition procedure in Raigad district that began last year.
"Our protests will continue. We want the government to withdraw land acquisition notices sent to farmers in Uran and Pen for the Mahamumbai SEZ. Following the Centre’s decision, this procedure is now invalid,’’ said Ulka Mahajan, leading the anti-SEZ protests under the banner of Anti Globalisation Forum.
Technically, the protestors are on right track.
On ground zero, the local special land acquisition officers working under the Raigad collectorate have almost completed their task. They are compiling reports on the public hearings held after sending the initial notices to farmers here.
The Raigad collector has already forwarded a proposal of 10 villages falling in this proposed SEZ to the divisional commissioner Valsa Nair.
``I will scrutinise the proposal and send it to the state government for further recommendation. The state will take decision on whether to acquire the land or not,’’ said Nair.
Nair admitted that the government had not issued any formal orders to halt the acquisition procedure.
``Unless there are any formal orders, we will continue with procedure,’’ added Nair.
Without government assistance, Reliance Group will have an uphill task to acquire land for their project. So far, through private buying option, it has managed to get sale agreements for only 1,000 acres of land – a fraction of their entire project.
Meanwhile, social experts have commended the decision to reduce the size of SEZ, particularly with reference to Mahamumbai.
``Reliance was looking at capital value of the land. By giving 30 per cent for real estate they were looking at super profits by seting up a hi-fi township. That profiteering tendency will now be curtailed,’’ said R N Sharma, professor at TISS.
Sharma had earlier done a social assessment report on Mahamumbai for its then promoters, Sea King Infastructure Ltd.