Tamil Nadu Sees 50+ Days of Protest Against SEZ on Arable Land
On the 50th day of protest against SIPCOT in Paliyapattu. Image courtesy: Theekkathir
People of the Paliyapattu village in Chengam block of Thiruvannamalai district in Tamil Nadu have been on protest since mid-December against large-scale industrialisation in their region. The locals are predominantly dependent on the arable land, surviving on agriculture, and they fear a special economic zone (SEZ) could adversely affect their livelihood.
The State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited (SIPCOT) campus to be set up in and around Paliyapattu is said to cover an area of 1,200 acres. Reportedly, 1,000 acres of farmland and residential areas affecting 500 houses will be acquired for the industrial complex.
The people of the village have come together despite their different political affiliations and passed a resolution in the local body stating that they do not need a SIPCOT in their area. They have urged the government to set up SIPCOTs on government poramboke land or some other barren land, and not on agriculture land.
In the state budget tabled in the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly last August, it was announced that SIPCOT industrial estates would be set up at 10 locations in Tamil Nadu and one of them would be in Thiruvannamalai.
FEAR OF LOSING LIVELIHOOD
The people of Paliyapattu and surrounding villages are primarily dependent on agriculture. Groundnut, vegetables, paddy, sugarcane, cashew, cassava, and flower varieties are cultivated here. The people of the area are living without poverty and any major livelihood issues.
More than a thousand families in the area will lose their livelihoods if land is acquired to set up the SIPCOT industrial estate. Whatever the Tamil Nadu government provides in return for the acquired land, it cannot compensate for the livelihood available to them through the arable lands.
Protest against SIPCOT in Thiruvannamalai on February 4. Image courtesy: Theekkathir
The villagers argue that agricultural lands can provide livelihood for generations to come. However, compensation for acquired land will be spent within a few months. After that, the affected families will have to live in poverty.
Development of industries is one of the best ways to boost business growth and employment in rural areas. At the same time, the SIPCOT complexes that are set up to create livelihoods should not be plundering existing sources of livelihoods.
Soon after the villagers received the information that the SIPCOT park is proposed in and around Paliyapattu, they outrightly opposed it fearing loss of livelihood along with adverse effects on the environment.
Although no official notice was provided to the people of Paliyapatti announcing SIPCOT in the area, they received the information after land surveys were carried out by the revenue department in the area.
The protest that began on December 21, reached its 50th day on February 9. Members of All India Kisan Sabha, Movement against Eight Lane Expressway, and High Tower Affected Farmers were present at the site of the protest on February 9.
The protesters asked why the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), which is opposing the Chennai-Salem eight lane green corridor project stating that it could have adverse effects on the environment and on the livelihood of the people, is establishing SIPCOT on arable land.
Under the previous All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government, the DMK severely criticised the ruling party for not engaging with the people prior to acquiring their land.
A total of more than 1,700 acres of land has been identified at Athakapadi, Thadangam, Adiyaman Kottai, and Balajangamana Alli for setting up a SIPCOT complex at Dharmapuri. In the previous assembly session, Chief Minister MK Stalin announced that additional 1000 acres of land would be acquired for the same.
Protest against SIPCOT in Dharmapuri. Image courtesy: Theekkathir
Coconut, banana, paddy, maize, and cash crops, including turmeric, are cultivated in these regions, besides encompassing wells and residence. The local people fear the livelihood of the four villages will be destroyed if the land is taken away from them to set up SIPCOT.
A SIPCOT estate is planned to be set up on an area of 800 acres across lands of the three panchayats of Tirupur district, namely Dattanur, Punchai Thamaraikulam, and Pulipoar in the Avinashi taluk. The land acquisition work is already underway here.
Protest held on December 4 in Dharmapuri. Image courtesy: Theekkathir
The local people are opposing it saying that industrial waste will severely affect water supply, the overall environment, agriculture, and people's livelihood. Farmers and the public in the area have strongly protested the evacuation of villagers, which is rendering them into refugees in their own land.
The state government announced the acquisition of up to 3,250 acres of agricultural land in Hosur SIPCOT area in Uddanapalli, Ayyarnapalli, and Naga Mangalam panchayats.
Similarly, 10,000 acres of land has already been acquired for the inner ring road in Denkanikottai, Hosur, and Shoolagiri taluks, and efforts are being made to acquire 22,000 acres of land for the Bharat Petroleum IDPL pipeline version project. Thus, the protesters are arguing that if agricultural land is acquired for all other sectors, there will be nothing left for agriculture
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