A delegation of farmers that met Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday has been assured of de-notification of the land earmarked for phase II and phase III of the Khed Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in a couple of months. The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna (SSS) had opposed notification for the SEZ.
SSS MP Raju Shetti, who led the delegation to the CM in Mumbai said he had assured him of de-notification of the land soon.
The Khed SEZ that has a spread of 1705 hectares is located in Khed taluka of Pune district. Land for the SEZ was acquired in 2006-07 for Khed Economic Infrastructure Private Limited (KEIPL). The acquisition process was carried out by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), which has 26% stakes in KEIPL. Bharat Forge has 74% shares.
The total area of the SEZ, as proposed, is 5,000 hectares. The land acquisition for phase II and III has yet to begin although MIDC’s name appears in land records of all the 17 villages where acquisition is supposed to take place. Land in four villages was acquired for Phase I.
The presence of MIDC in land records prevented farmers from buying, selling or mortgaging land. Shetti had marched from Khed to Pune last month to highlight the plight of farmers and he was joined by hundreds of farmers. Following Shetti’s protests, the CM promised to resolve the issue.
SSS spokesperson Yogesh Pande said the meeting with the CM was fruitful. “During the meeting, we pointed out how SEZ in the area has created serious problems for farmers. Most of them are marginal farmers and are not even able to raise crop loans (because of the notification),” he said.
A senior MIDC officer who was present in the meeting said the de-notification would take two months. “In September 2014, Pune MIDC had published a report recommending de-notification of 1657 hectares of land that was notified for Phase II of SEZ. After the protest by Shetti in March, we sent another letter to the government asking for scrapping of 1836 hectares of land notified for phase III of SEZ,” the officer said.
As per procedure, after receiving such reports from regional offices, the Department of Industry issues a government notification asking for de-notification of the land, and that work is carried out by the revenue office.
KEIPL representatives refused to comment. In an earlier release, the company had said they were not interested in acquiring more land for the project. “The issue of removal of MIDC reservations on notified lands that have not been acquired needs to be taken up directly with MIDC. Our company has no role in this and we are not interested in acquiring any more land for our project,” the company stated when asked to comment.