Even after the State government in March this year sorted out the land issue to the farmers in Kakinada Special Economic Zone (K-SEZ), however, many bottlenecks remain unresolved.

For the first time in India, the State government had decided to give back the lands to the farmers who had not taken compensation and agitated against KSEZ and also issued a GOin this regard.

The government sorted out the issue amicably to benefit both farmers and also KSEZ operators. According to the agreement, the KSEZ should leave the lands to the farmers. If some of the lands are needed to the KSEZ, the KSEZ or the government should show the alternative lands to the farmers. The farmers also agreed to the proposal.

The officials identified nearly 800 acres as alternative lands to farmers. But the farmers are not coming forward as some of the lands are not useful for farming as lands have huge pits. The land should be re-registered to the farmers.

If the lands are re-registered, the existing land position should be de-notified by the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA) which is the central authority for KSEZ.

In the process of denotification, there is abnormal delay as the KSEZ notification was issued 15 years back. The authority should verify the survey numbers and other data and then it could de-notify the lands.

Though the GMR sold its stake to Aurobindo Realty and Infrastructure the process has not been completed yet. There are many such problems to be resolved. If these bottlenecks are sorted out, there may be chances to establish many industries in the KSEZ.

The KSEZ was formed in 2005 with the initiative of the late Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy. But the farmers in the area strongly opposed and staged several agitations to protect and save their lands as well as environment.

The farmers as well as people did not believe the promises made by the government that it would provide jobs and development of infrastructure facilities. Fishermen on the coast had been adversely affected and only the corporate firms such as the GMR group had been benefited, they alleged.

During the Congress regime, there was a proposal of establishing KSEZ with setting up of ONGC refinery with a requirement of 8,000 acres of land. Initially, the government proposed the lands of Kakinada Rural mandal. But, due to political influences and some of the then Congress leaders, the KSEZ shifted to U Kothapalli and Thondangi mandals.

The KSEZ authorities headed by its developer KV Rao purchased nearly 6,000 acres at a throwaway price of Rs 3 lakh per acre. It is alleged that the KSEZ with the support of the government forcibly acquired lands from the farmers by threatening them. However, the they have not yet given up 2,180 acres of land to KSEZ.

Later, the government acquired 2,000 acres lands in Kona area of Thondangi mandal through APIIC. However, the farmers of 2,180 acres did not accept the sale and they did not submit and hand over their land documents and launched the agitation against the KSEZ.

When Nara Chandrababu Naidu was in opposition before the bifurcation of AP, he promised that he would give back KSEZ lands to the farmers. But he couldn’t fulfil the promise and announced that industries would come up in KSEZ.

Before the 2019 elections, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy promised that lands would be given back to the farmers. After assuming charge as CM, Jagan constituted a committee headed by Agriculture Minister Kurasala Kanna Babu which agreed to give back KSEZ lands to the farmers who did not take compensation. And the government issued orders to that effect.

It may take some more time to establish industries in the KSEZ area as the lands should be de-notified by the Central government. it is apt to recall here that the GMR sold its 51 per cent share in the KSEZ to Aurobindo Realty.

Recently, Special Chief Secretary to Industries and Commerce R Karikala Valaven visited Kakinada and instructed the Revenue and Kakinada Special Economic Zone (KSEZ) officials to complete the process of returning lands to farmers in the KSEZ area.

Valaven said that 1,357 acres of land out of 2,180 acres should be given back to the farmers and for the remaining 823 acres the Revenue and KSEZ officials should show alternative lands to farmers.

He said that the entire process should be completed immediately as per the 2007 Land Award and the original assessments without any objections.

He also said that while 1,357.18 acres of land was to be given to them in Category-1, the 821.61 acres of alternative land was to be given to them in Category-2. Already the Revenue authorities are taking initiative to make registrations to the farmers for their lands. Some of the farmers died and there is an ambiguity to whom the land should be given.

District Collector Chevuri Hari Kiran said that the Central government will have to sort out some technical issues like notifying and de-notifying lands in the KSEZ area again. He said that some of the lands were being given back to the farmers by making the registration in their names and some of the lands would be given as alternative options.

He said that they convinced the farmers and gave back the lands. He said that the registration process is going on in a transparent manner. When the government will complete the notifying and de-notifying process in the Kona land and KSEZ area, the investors would come forward and set up the big units in Kakinada.

He said that more pharma industries will come up in the next two years. The Collector said that KSEZ will become an industrial corridor. Most of the people are likely to invest the money to establish pharmaceutical and other big units and develop infrastructure facilities in the KSEZ area.

Source : The Hans India