“We don'twant SEZ at all. Our land is very fertile. What it lacks is proper arrangement of irrigation, which the successive governments of Haryana have failed to ensure in the last 60 years. Give us water not SEZ. The government should listen clearly that we are ready to go to any extent to save our land,? said Mahavir Gulia, chief of 24 Gulia villages Panchayat, in Jhajjar district of Haryana, where 25,000 acres of agricultural land has been given to Reliance Group under SEZ by the state government. It will be the second largest SEZ in the country. The state government has reportedly sanctioned 49 such SEZs in the state, which has agitated the farmers so much that their struggle may assume the proportion of another Nandigram and Singur any time.
When the country was celebrating the 65th anniversary of 1942 Quit India Movement on August 9, more than 3,000 farmers under the banner of Haryana Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti held a protest rally at Sondhi village under Jhajjar district, about 12 km from Delhi'sDhansa border. The agitating farmers demanded employment guarantee for at least one member of the family, a residential plot, permission to cultivate the land till the work on SEZ begins and if the work on SEZ does not complete within the stipulated time, the land should be returned to the farmers. They also demanded setting-up of technical institutions in their area so that the village youth, whose land is being acquired for SEZ, can have technical education to get respectable jobs in the industries to be set up in SEZ.
Addressing the agitating farmers, senior BJP leader and chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on SEZ, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi said handing over 25,000 acre land to a company is totally meaningless and a disastrous step. It is nothing but an attempt to destroy farmers for the benefits of capitalists. He said the Parliamentary Committee under his chairmanship has recommended that SEZ should strictly be set up only at the barren land and it should not exceed 5,000 acre at a place. He said, the land for SEZ should be taken on lease from farmers and some amount from their compensation should be invested in the industries to be established at their land so that they too can share the profit. Demanding a new law on compensation for farmers, labourers and other people depending upon farmers like carpenters, barbers, blacksmiths, etc., Dr Joshi said no land should be taken from any farmer till the new law on compensation is enacted and the law of 1894 is amended for the benefit of the farmers. He said SEZ could not be set up so far in Nandigram and Singur (West Bengal) because the farmers are unitedly fighting against it. ?If you also wish to protect your fertile land, don'tsell it to anyone under any allurement or pressure,? he added.
Dr Joshi further said SEZ might pose a major threat for the security of the country, as the government would have no control over the activities being carried out there. ?The British were defeated by the Indian farmers. Ironically, the farmers who made maximum sacrifice during the freedom struggle, are the worst victims now,? he added. He also cautioned the farmers against the consequences of the so-called second green revolution being envisioned by the Prime Minister by advocating new seeds. He said the Rs 60 to 70,000 crore seed market of the country is also being given in the hands of foreign companies. Coming down heavily on those who are supporting American model of agriculture, he said only three per cent Americans are involved in farming, whereas in India over 70 per cent people are involved in it.
Capt. Abhimanyu, state secretary of Haryana BJP, said out of 25,000 acre, the Reliance has already purchased about 12,000 acre land in the region. He drew the attention of the government to a very serious problem being witnessed in the areas where the farmers? land has been acquired or purchased. ?Since the day the farmers sold their land the number of costly cars has increased in the villages. If a village has 100 families, it has over 140 cars. Not only are the big bungalows coming up, the sale of liquor has also increased manifold. By and large, the money received as compensation is being wasted on unnecessary things by the farmers and after sometime they will have nothing to eat,? he said. He pointed out that those farmers whose land was acquired about 50 years back in Bahadurgarh are now working as labourers or watchmen in factories there.
Shri Kishan Singh Sangwan, BJP MP from Sonipat, said SEZ in present form is nothing but a conspiracy to make the future generations of farmers labourers. Citing the example of Rardhana village under Sonipat district where the farmers? land was purchased by builders, he said over 2,000 new cars were purchased by the farmers and 800 new bungalows have been built in the villages. Not only this, about 500 youth of the village have applied for arms licence in the SP office.
Shri Dilbagh Singh, member of the Sangharsh Samiti, said the company, which purchases land of farmers should have been entrusted with the responsibility of providing basic facilities like water, electricity, roads, etc. in the village. He said the villagers had also submitted a memorandum to the then President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on February 1. After that memorandum a sub-committee of Parliament came to meet the affected farmers, but it was not allowed to meet the affected farmers by the local administration.