Even as it reiterated the demand for a CBI inquiry into the land scandals in VUDA, a roundtable organised by People for India, Visakha Nagara Poura Samkshema Sangham and NIVAS on Tuesday expressed concern over policies being pursued by the government for allotment of land and land going out of the basic need for housing and becoming something like a share in the stock market.

Participating in the discussion, retired IAS officer C. Arjuna Rao, who was Joint Collector and Collector in the 1970s here, said in spite of GOs clearly laying down that assigned land should not be taken back and if taken proper compensation should be paid were reversed and vast extent of land was earmarked for SEZs, industries etc.

He opposed any move to deprive poor people of land in cities in the name of public-private participation and said slums should be developed in situ. Stressing the need for IAS and IPS officers acting impartially, Mr. Arjuna Rao said utilising the RTI Act, and legal avenues civil society members should fight for protecting land and housing for the poor and the middle class. IT companies should be allowed to retain land in proportion to the employment created and for the remainder market value should be collected.

Earlier, he told mediapersons that three GOs issued for protection of land between Visakhapatnam and Bhimili were reversed by the government. Also the 300 acres of land allotted near Bhimili was meant for all sections right from a Class IV employee, SC/ST/BC, economically backward and for social infrastructure.

MLC from North Andhra Graduates' Constituency M.V.S. Sarma said land was being taken from the poor and being given to the rich. Stating that land allotments were made in violation of the norms, he said VUDA Vice-Chairman Kona Sasidhar deserved to be congratulated on sending a report on the scams. Land had become, instead of a need, a stock to boost value in a speculative, globalised market.

CPI(M) district secretary Ch. Narsinga Rao said VUDA had been functioning like a real estate agency catering to the rich and NRIs from its early days when it provided housing to LIGs and MIGs. He flayed the land acquisition policy of the government in the name of SEZs citing the example of Achyutapuram mandal where 10,000 acres was acquired.

People for India vice-president B.L. Narayana, who presided, said of the 6.023 acres of government land given to the VUDA 539.49 acres was involved in scandals. Convenor B.B. Ganesh and Poura Samkshema Sangham president B. Ganga Rao spoke.

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