The Reliance-promoted special economic zone (SEZ) in Raigad has some more problems to contend with.
First the government decided to denotify the unsold land in the area last week, and now farmers who had sold their land for the SEZ are saying they will not let it be used for commercial purposes.
Hundreds of landowners had signed deals with Reliance Industries and Jai Corp for a handsome compensation a couple of years ago, even as a majority of farmers opposed the land acquisition and won the battle recently.
The company claims to have bought 4,500 acres of the notified 35,000 acres before the land acquisition process lapsed in 2009.
After the government denotified the unsold land on February 18, the promoters said they would buy more land and develop a commercial zone. The state government is not opposed to the idea as it is legal.
Now, the farmers want the promoters to sell the land back to the earlier owners or face consequences.
“We dare the company to take possession of the land purchased from us. Company officials should not think of using force or smart tactics,” Ganesh Thakur, a local farmer leader told the Hindustan Times.
Thakur said most of the farmers in Dadar and Rave villages had sold their land.
“We request Reliance and others involved to abandon their plan. We’re ready to give them the amount they paid us earlier.”
A local political leader who agitated against the SEZ said Dadar village in particular, has a history of violence. “In the past, minor incidents triggered major violence in this village, which is now under round-the-year police surveillance,” the leader said, requesting anonymity.
Convener of the Forum Against Globalisation, Ulka Mahajan, said some villagers have moved the Bombay high court to get their land back. “Farmers have argued that they be allowed to retain their land because the SEZ will not happen. The verdict is awaited,” she said.
Mahajan added that the company was free to retain the land but not against farmers’ wishes. “Also, the promoters will face genuine problems like connectivity because the land bought till date doesn’t have any geographical continuity.”
Thakur pointed out that the promoters would also face environment hindrance because of mangrove forests.
“The officials may not know that the most of the land is mangrove forest as they did not visit the land before buying it.
Also, a quarter of the land sold is disputed and farmers will now move the court in such cases.”
Company officials refused to comment.