Since the announcement of the National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) project in 2015, two developments have taken place in Telangana’s Sangareddy district — vociferous opposition from the farmers, and a real-estate boom in the area.

Why should we give away our fertile lands Telangana farmers oppose NIMZ projectImages: Charan Teja/TNM
Delve Land Rights Monday, December 20, 2021 - 18:17

"There are no crops that we cannot cultivate here on our land. But now, the Telangana government wants us to give up that land — the land we have been dependent on since our ancestors. What should we do after giving up the land? Where should we go?" asked Bichi Reddy K, a farmer who owns five acres of land in the Mamidgi village in the Sangareddy district of Telangana. Like hundreds of farmers from as many as 18 villages in the district, Bichireddy is not ready to give up his land for the National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ). 

Farmers Bichi Reddy and Kishta Reddy show sugar cane fields in the village.

The proposed NIMZ, an integrated industrial township, will feature numerous manufacturing industries across 12,635 acres of land. Most of the tracts are private and agricultural lands spread over 18 villages in the Nyalkal and Jharasangam mandals near Zaheerabad in the district. In 2015, Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Corporation Limited (a state government agency that develops industrial parks) proposed to set up NIMZ in these mandals in accordance with the Union government’s National Manufacturing Policy 2011. The following year, the Union government approved NIMZ in Telangana’s Sangareddy. 

And ever since the announcement of the project was made in 2015, two developments have taken place — vociferous opposition from the farmers, and a real-estate boom in the area. When this reporter was en route to both Nyalkal and Jharasangam mandals, the picture of a real estate boom was quite evident near these regions. The main roads are lined with developed and under-construction real estate ventures and resorts, punctuated by a few billboards. 

A newly constructed water tank in a real estate venture that came up recently 

For the hundreds of farmers and several residents in these regions, this is a worrying sign. They have been up against NIMZ, alleging that it would affect their agricultural-dependent livelihoods and have a major impact on the environment. 

What the farmers see as a major injustice to them is the compensation amount offered by the government. When TNM spoke to the residents, we found that the compensation ranged between Rs 7 and Rs 9 lakh per acre, while the market price was not less than Rs 60 lakh to Rs 1 crore (approximate). While the state government has already acquired 3000 acres of land, several farmers alleged that their lands were taken away by force. Others continue to face the threat of land acquisition. 

"Why should we leave the land that we have been tending to for ages? Should we become watchmen or daily wage workers now? It is because of this land that I am able to live a respectable life and provide work to others,” Srinivas Reddy, a farmer who owns 10 acres of land in Mamidgi village of Nyalkal mandal, told TNM.

Farmers fiercely protect their lands

Nyalkal and Jharasangam mandals are known for commercial crops such as sugarcane and cotton, besides vegetables, ginger, green chillies, and grains like millets and red gram beans.  They either export their produce or sell them in the neighbouring Karnataka’s Bidar, which is less than an hour away from the Zaheerabad region.

"We have water tanks across the villages and groundwater that is adequate for cultivation. We are not saying that we are making profits every year, but earning enough to live a respectful life as farmers. Besides, we are able to give higher education to our children, and marry them off, too," said Raja Reddy M, another farmer from Mamidgi village. 

According to the farmers, besides a water tank for the irrigational purpose, the village has over 650 borewells and at least 500 of them are in about 1,100 acres of land, which has been notified for acquisition for NIMZ. 

Srinivas Reddy alleged, “The officials concerned have not even visited the site, and the project does not have environmental clearance. They have notified the survey numbers of the lands. As we are opposing the project, they (government officials) have not allowed us to express our concerns in the public hearings."

Farmers Srinivas Reddy and Raja Reddy in conversation with TNM

Mamidgi village, with a population of around 3,000, has over 1,450 acres of agricultural land, in which 250 acres are 'assigned lands,' mostly cultivated by the Dalits in the village for generations. Assigned lands are units provided to the landless people, mainly from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and other marginalised backgrounds, for cultivation.  

The Dalit farmers said they have not been notified about the acquisition, although the same land was allegedly notified with survey numbers. They fear not getting compensation under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act 2013). In the case of land acquisition, unlike farmers who own and cultivate on patta lands, Dalit farmers, who cultivate assigned lands, only have cultivation rights.

"Of the three acres of my land, one acre is an assigned land while the two-acre is patta land (government-issued land deed). Now, I am being told that all three acres of the land would go for NIMZ. The compensation they are offering won’t even get us one plot of land," said Hanumanth N, a Dalit farmer from Mamidgi.

N Hanmanthu, Dalit farmer from Mamidgi village

Even as the Telangana government is pushing private industries — manufacturing, automobile, electrical machinery, transport — to establish their units in NIMZ, they claimed this would generate over 2.66 lakh employment opportunities, besides developing the local infrastructure by 2040.

When asked about the potential employment opportunities for future generations through NIMZ, the farmers spoke about the industries that were set up in the district earlier, with the same promises of employment. However, they have not been given jobs other than as security guards, they alleged. 

Farmers of Mamidgi village

"Why should we or our children work as security guards by giving the lands for cheap prices when compared to the market prices? Why is the government acting as a real estate broker?” asked Sanjeev Reddy, another farmer. 

Land forcefully taken 

Hundreds of farmers from Chilapally Thanda, Yelgoi, Bardipur, Rukmapur, and Mungi villages have a different story to tell. About 3,000 acres of the land was acquired through contentious Government Order (GO) 123 between 2016 and 2017. The GO was meant to enable expeditious acquisition of lands from landowners for public purposes. The Telangana High Court, however, struck down the GO in 2017, stating it subverts the purpose of the Land Acquisition Act.

Villages where around 3000 acres of land was already acquired. (Image: Google Maps)

But the farmers from these specific villages, whose lands had already been acquired by then, said that they were not given fair compensation, and that acquisition was done forcefully. 

"Our lands were taken overnight,” alleged Sudhakar Jadhav, a graduate farmer from Chilapally Thanda. “For the patta lands, we were given a compensation of Rs 5.65 lakh per acre and the assigned land at Rs 3.20 lakh per acre. None of us knew about our rights to fair compensation and displacement then."

Tribal women from Chilapally Thanda took part in a protest against forced land acquisition at Indira Park in Hyderabad 

According to other residents of Chilapally Thanda, revenue officials and some real estate brokers allegedly threatened them to sign the papers to take the lands. “They used to come in the night and hold feasts and alcohol parties for the men here and take their signatures,” claimed Rama Bai, a 60-year-old female farmer from Chilapally Thanda. “Once, when I refused to sign the paper, the Revenue officials said our signatures didn’t matter but we will be given Rs 3.20 lakh per acre. They threatened others who did not agree and said we won’t get a single rupee if we did not cooperate," she alleged. 

Others alleged that the Revenue officials assured them of agricultural lands in other places, besides the compensation. 

According to Prem Singh, a resident from the Chilapally Thanda , they were initially not aware of the consequences and so gave in to the pressure to sign the papers. “At the time of signing, we were told that only some parcels of land will be taken for development purpose, and that we could still reside there. But now they are asking us to vacate the villages as well," he alleged, adding, “Most of the farmers were not given compensation. When they approach revenue officials for compensation, they threaten them with the cases.”

The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act 2013) assures fair compensation to all the affected persons, besides land replacement and providing a housing facility as part of the resettlement, as mandated by the Act. However, in the case of these villages, no such initiatives were taken, said the farmers.

A map of proposed NIMZ site (in orange color) connecting national highways 65 and 61 (Source:

According to the residents, even the public hearings on land acquisition and surveys did not take place as per the rules in the LARR Act. 

Raja Reddy, who is also representative of NIMZ Rythu Porata Samiti (a body of farmers affected by the project), alleged, "The so-called public hearings held by the Revenue officials are fake. They are not allowing the actual farmers to express their concerns. Every time they hold a public hearing, there will be a police picket to prevent us from attending the hearing.” 

The group had also reached out to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry, urging them to not give the clearance as it will threaten the environment besides our livelihood." Following this, in April 2021, an Expert Appraisal Committee of the Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry deferred the decision on environment clearance for the NIMZ project. 

The committee also sought additional details of environmental impact and land acquisition besides category-wise demarcation of the industries as per the pollution norms and a detailed report from Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (TSIIC).

A sign board of NIMZ project in Nyalkal mandal

Meanwhile, several private companies are already coming forward to set up their units in the ambitious NIMZ. Recently, Hyderabad-based VEM Technologies Limited, a defence company, signed an agreement with the state government to establish an integrated defence factory at Yelgoi in Jharasangam mandal over 500 acres of land. Yelgoi falls in the 3,000 acres of the land that was already acquired.

Speaking to TNM, Mogudumpalli Ashappa, Telangana State Land Evacuees Association (TSLEA) president, said, “While realtors and real estate brokers are making crores of money at the cost of environment and livelihood of farmers, why should farmers be given less compensation. To ensure fair acquisition, each acre of land should be given compensation seven times higher the market price. This should be distributed to all farmers concerned, including the Dalits and tribals who are cultivating on assigned lands by following the LAR&R Act norms." 

TS-LEA protest at Indira Park in Hyderabad demanding fair displacement and compensation for evacuees of different projects

In a statement, TSLEA, which is fighting for land rights in different projects, demanded, "A comprehensive land utilisation policy should be brought and implemented in the state; the policy should be framed as per the needs of growing human and animal population and food requirements and agriculture; and the policy should consider environment conservation as the main aspect in the utilisation of the land."

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