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MSEZ: farmers set a 20-day deadline for de-notifying their land

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Demand: Farmers seeking de-notification of their land outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Mangalore on Thursday.
Demand: Farmers seeking de-notification of their land outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Mangalore on Thursday.

Staff correspondent

Warn of launching a sustained agitation if the demand is not met

Farmers threaten to boycott the elections

‘There should be no blanket notification of land’

MANGALORE: Farmers opposed to the Mangalore Special Economic Zone (MSEZ) have set a deadline for de-notification of their lands.

At a meeting with the Deputy Commissioner M. Maheswar Rao on Thursday, farmers and residents from the villages notified for Phase II of the MSEZ project gave the district administration 20 days to de-notify their lands. Phase II of the project covers 2,035 acres of land in the four villages of Permude, Ekkaru, Delantha Bettu and Kuthethoor.

If their demands were not met, they have threatened to launch a sustained agitation. They have also threatened to boycott the Assembly elections.

The agitators were led by the Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshana Samiti (KBSS).

In a memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, the KBSS said the promoters of the project should buy land individually from the people who were willing to sell it. There should be no blanket notification of land, the samiti said.

The Rs. 35,000-crore Mangalore Special Economic Zone project has suffered a setback after a central committee of experts recommended to the Ministry of Environment and Forests in early March against going ahead with the Phase II of the project.

At the meeting, president of the KBSS Madhukar Amin demanded Mr. Rao to work as per the recommendations of the central committee and not side with the promoters of the project. He also quoted the Board of Approvals for SEZs and said that there was a direction that land for an SEZ could not be acquired forcibly.

A member of the KBSS said: “Senior officials in Bangalore have told us that you are keen on pushing the project through. Your job is to represent our aspirations not stifle them.”

Several villagers also pleaded with Mr. Rao to ensure that their lives were not affected. “We will erect your statue in our villages if you protect our land and livelihood,” said Lawrence D’Cunha, secretary of the KBSS.

The farmers told Mr. Rao that with the sowing season fast approaching they were still unclear about their future. “We are not sure if we should prepare our land for this season or not,” said John Pinto, one of the farmers.

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