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Jhajjar: farmers protest Reliance SEZ

In the wake of upsurges in Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal, more and more farmers are coming out to protest land acquisition for industrial projects. The latest flashpoint is Jhajjar, where India's private sector behemoth Reliance Industries is setting up the most ambitious Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

While the Reliance plan to invest Rs.300 billion ($6.80 billion) to set up the SEZ on about 25,000 acres of land between Gurgaon and Jhajjar, 65 km from the national capital, had left the business world impressed, farmers and villagers here are not amused.

They question the Haryana government's right to decide about their lives and livelihoods without even informing them. "We had no idea about this project as everything that came to us was written in English. We were just asked to sign on the papers," said Pandit Netanand, head of the Jhajjar village council. "I want to know why the state government is working hand in glove with Reliance. We will fight, we will lay down our lives, but not give our land on their terms and conditions," Netanand told IANS.

Angry farmers of Jhajjar marched down Thursday to the deputy commissioner's office to submit a memorandum detailing their demands. The farmers have said in the memorandum that they are not in favour of transferring the ownership of the land to Reliance and would prefer to give land only on lease.

They have also demanded reservation of 25 percent of jobs in the proposed SEZ to the residents of this village as a legally binding requirement. Moreover, they want to choose the land for the project in such a manner that the village population is not displaced.

The farmers want to negotiate directly with the firm the compensation for the families that stand to lose their farmlands as well as the terms and conditions of the lease.

A copy of the memorandum signed by around 3,000 farmers will also be sent to the president, the finance ministry, the commerce and industry ministry, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

Though Jhajjar deputy commissioner Suprabha Dahiya refused to comment on the issue, she said: "This is the first time I have received any petition from the farmers.

We are only executing bodies and we don't have much role to play in this. I will forward the memorandum to the concerned authority."


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posted by Bimal 3.2.07,


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