Rajulapudi Srinivas

‘MNCs have created land banks but are not starting projects’

Government did not follow the court directive of not taking over land

Villagers booked for obstructing construction of an airport

NELLORE: Thousands of farmers who lost their land for setting up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and industries will decide the fate of the candidates in the district.

In about five constituencies in Sri Potti Sriramulu Nellore district, the SEZ victims and the farmers/villagers or the beneficiaries hold the key.

About 15 projects, including five SEZs, were proposed in the district some three years ago with an investment of Rs. 50,000 crore.

Officials said that the district will become a industrial hub in the coming years and about 1.50 lakh people will be provided employment directly and create equal number of jobs indirectly.

But, only a few companies started production and many are under construction now. Even the industries which were set up have not started production fully and only a few hundreds of people are being employed.

The projects were proposed in Kovur, Kavali, Sulluripeta, Gudur and Sarvepalli constituencies in the district.

Speaking to The Hindu, former Minister and TDP district president Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy said the government took valuable lands displacing some thousands of people.

Though the court directed the government not to take fertile lands for SEZs, the government forcibly took the lands from farmers.

“The multi national companies and the industrialists who selected sites for setting up the projects have just created land banks but are not starting the projects. In Menakur village of Naidupeta mandal, government acquired about 5,700 acres two years ago for setting up a textile park. But, the project was not yet started and the villagers were rendered homeless,” said Mr. Somireddy.

“A villager, Venkatesh of Mambattu village in Tada mandal said going by the promises of the officials then (two years ago) we thought that our village will become an industrial centre and the locals will get some livelihood.

But, not even one project has started fully,” he said.

Airport controversy

“We are living in Damavaram village in Buchi mandal for the past 70 years.

Recently, the government proposed to construct an airport in about 2,072 acres and without our knowledge the land was taken for the project.

When we entered into the fields, the police booked cases against 55 members in the village,” said a farmer, Itha Venkaiah, who owned four acres of land.

However, Nellore Lok Sabha contestant Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy has a different view point.

He says Krishnapatnam Port, Reliance Power Project, Apache shoe company, MAS Holdings, Kisan SEZ, Caparo, Taiwan Industrial Park, Tata Ryerson Limited, Eastern Mattresses Private Limited, Leather SEZ, Venkem Labs and other projects will provide employment to some thousands of educated youth.

“Nellore will soon become the industrial capital for Andhra Pradesh and the dreams of Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy to solve unemployment problem will come true with the SEZs and other projects in the State,” said Mr. Reddy.