The Andhra Pradesh police detained several people on Sunday after tension prevailed at the Kakinada Special Economic Zone (KSEZ), with farmers attempting to barge into the premises, demanding that the land be returned to them. The protest was backed by activists and workers from the Left parties, the YSRCP, the Congress and the Jana Sena Party.
The agitation had been building up for days after a call given by the KSEZ Vyatireka Porata Committee, with many farmers deciding to plant crops in the KSEZ land as a form of protest, as it had been lying vacant for years since it was acquired by the government. After organising at Ramanakkapet village and raising slogans, the protesters began making their way towards the KSEZ land.
Expecting trouble, a large number of police personnel were deployed and they managed to take several leaders into custody and foil the protest. The police on Saturday also took many into preventive custody and imposed house arrests on other leaders. While detained leaders were shifted to various police stations, security has been beefed up across the area to avoid any untoward incidents.
‚ÄúThe government is trying to snub the movement by using the police force. The farmers have been fighting for long and even Chandrababu Naidu extended solidarity to them in the capacity of the Opposition leader in 2014,‚ÄĚ a CPI(M) leader was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the management of the SEZ said that they already had legal possession of the land and operations would be commencing soon, which means that they could not return the lands to the farmers.
"The government has discussed the issue with the farmers several times and finally asked the SEZ management to pay Rs 2 lakh additionally to the lands already acquired paying Rs 3 lakh. It also asked to pay Rs 6 lakh additionally to the locals, who did not accept the compensation for the acquired lands. Majority of the farmers have received the enhanced compensation for their lands," the management said in a statement.
Kakinada SEZ, which is centred in the Kakinada node of the Visakhapatnam - Chennai Industrial Corridor, is expected to house various industries including petrochemicals, food and agro processing, discrete manufacturing, electronics, toys, sports goods & apparel.
The project has been controversial ever since the tenure of former Chief Minister late YS Rajasekhara Reddy and while most of the land for the KSEZ has been acquired, some farmers have stood their ground and refused to give up their plots.
In January last year, it was announced that Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed by KSEZ with five other companies including Oil Country Tubular, Kamineni Steel & Power, United Seamless Tubular, Deepak Phenolics and DCM Shriram for setting up manufacturing facilities with a total investment of Rs 7,000 crore over 550 acres. However, most of those companies are yet to set up production in the area.