Enter the Lok Sabha race seeking abolition of SEZ Act, restoration of their lands and a check on pollution
POLEPALLY (MAHABUBNAGAR DT): They are all unlettered farmers who have never been active in politics even in their own village. But circumstances seemed to have willed otherwise for over 360 farmers’ families of this village in the backward Jadcharla Assembly constituency of the drought-prone Mahabubnagar district, known for migration of labourers on a large scale.
With a view to highlighting their problem, 15 farmers of this village have filed their nominations from Mahabubnagar Lok Sabha constituency to take on the candidates of the mainstream parties. TRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who has extended support to their cause, is contesting from this seat.
Land for SEZ
Polepally hit the headlines last May when some farmers contested the byelection to Jadcherla Assembly constituency and garnered 13,580 votes. Their presence led to the defeat of the TDP candidate by a slender margin of 1,600 votes. Their determination to contest elections stems from the 1,000 acres of rain-fed agricultural land acquired for the Pharma Special Economic Zone near their village abutting NH-7 on the Hyderabad-Bangalore Road.
They are crying foul over the poor compensation, relief and rehabilitation packages. The SEZ was notified in 2002, but the land was acquired by the Congress Government in 2005 at Rs. 18,000 an acre.
Their agenda includes abolition of the SEZ Act, restoration of their lands and fighting growing pollution caused by drug companies.
Chinna Venkaiah, a displaced farmer who lost six acres, is in the fray protesting against the meagre compensation.
“As against Rs. 18,000 an acre, we only got Rs. 9,000 as the middlemen knocked off their share. The promise of a permanent house is still pending,” he disclosed.
“Why should we suffer because of the Special Economic Zone? We have lost our livelihood forever. Our lands are being sold for crores of rupees, while we have to be satisfied with a poor compensation,” decried Depally Maisaiah, another contesting candidate.
Another contestant V. Venkateswarulu, who represents Anti-Polepally SEZ Joint Action Committee, says: “We succeeded to a large extent in the bypolls. Emboldened by those results, we want to continue our struggle through elections,” he observed.
No easy task
Fighting elections is not an easy task for these poor farmers, who lack money and vehicles for their campaign. While the rivals zoom past in vehicles, the 15 candidates have to adjust in one vehicle to visit the villages.
This has been objected to by the election authorities.
To overcome the problem, the Polepally farmers visit the village shandies, bus stands and railway stations to campaign.
“We travel in APSRTC buses and urge the people to realise our plight. We warn them about their future if their lands are also forcibly taken away,” Seenaiah Goud, another candidate pointed out.