Hunger strike against SEZ that affects 50,000 villagers


Mumbai : Hundreds of residents of Maharashtra’s Raigad district along with members of 21 NGOs began an indefinite hunger strike here Thursday to protest against the acquisition of irrigated land for the Maha Mumbai SEZ that they say will affect over 50,000 people.

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The government is now acquiring 35,000 acres for the special economic zone (SEZ), affecting over 50,000 people in 45 villages, said Vaishali Patil, one of the protesters.

The hunger strike is being held at the historic Azad maidan in south Mumbai.

Last year, following protests from residents of Raigad district, the Maharashtra government had assured the agitators that irrigated land would not be acquired. A high powered committee was set up to look into the matter.

Veteran Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) leader N.D. Patil, 80, who is a member of the committee, said: “One year has passed and the government, instead of taking a clear-cut decision, has been tacitly supporting the acquisition of irrigated land in Pen taluka, considered to be the rice godown of Maharashtra.”

Vaishali Patil said that the acquisition of arable land now irrigated by the Hetvane dam would affect around 8,000 peopple in 22 villages.

She added that 12 percent of the population in the affected villages was tribals and many salt pan workers lived there. “All these people will be affected by the project. They have been living there for three to four generations,” she said.