Special Correspondent

"Development not at the cost of farmers"

  • Meets Manmohan, submits memoranda
  • Says Rajasekhara Reddy, others are involved in land scam

    NEW DELHI: Giving a new political twist to the ongoing debate on creation of Special Economic Zones, Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu termed the policy a "big fraud."

    Mr. Naidu, who was here on a two-day visit, said at a press conference that the United Progressive Alliance Government sought to go ahead with its implementation "without any experience or scrutiny."

    He charged that lakhs of acres of agricultural land was being acquired for the SEZs. "You have to put safeguards. While we need development, it cannot be at the expense of poor farmers," Mr. Naidu said.

    The TDP chief met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and submitted two memoranda, one on the alleged irregularities in the Hyderabad outer ring road project and the other on the issue of clemency to Gouru Venkata Reddy that was set aside by the Supreme Court.

    Alignment changed

    Mr. Naidu said close relatives of Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, some of his Cabinet colleagues, relatives of senior officials and others were involved in a "land scam." He said the alignment of the project was changed four times.

    He said poor farmers were deprived of their rightful share when forced to sell land at lower rates by people close to the ruling party. They were told that their land was being acquired for the ring road project.

    Later, these influential people made the Government alter the notification and made profits when land rates shot up.

    Mr. Naidu said the Central Bureau of Investigation probe ordered by the State into the project and others was aimed at "diluting" the focus, and demanded a probe by a sitting judge of either the Supreme Court or a High Court.

    Andhra Pradesh Government special representative Mallu Ravi dubbed Mr. Naidu's trip to the capital a move to "gain cheap publicity."

    He said the TDP should be aware that the State Government has already set up a judicial inquiry as well as a CBI probe into the ring road project.

    He said the TDP should submit any evidence it had to the agency instead of "wasting the time of high constitutional authorities."