Hyderabad: The relay hunger strike of farmers in front of a non-functional sugar factory in Parigi Mandal of Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district entered its 28th day on Saturday, January 16. Farmers and activists are opposing the proposed real estate venture by private entities in the land acquired by the government for setting up of industries.
In 1977-78, the government entity Nizam Sugars Limited had set up a Nizam Sugar Factory in about 170 acres of land in Parigi. About 115 acres of the land was acquired from 23 families, while 25 acres of land was devadaya or endowment land and the remaining area was government land but was under cultivation by local residents.
“It is illegal to use the land acquired for setting up sugar factory for real estate purposes. Farmers gave up their land to the government for setting up industries hoping that their family members will get jobs there. They are now demanding that either the lands are given back to them or new industries are set up. But they are opposing real estate business,” said Peddana, Anantapur district secretary of the Agricultural Workers’ Union.
The production in the factory started in 1982 and around 1,500 residents of the area were employed in the factory. Subsequently, as the company went into losses, in 1998, private entity Shree Renuka Sugars Limited acquired the factory assets. Reportedly, in 2006, Renuka Sugars sold the company’s land to Rassai Properties and Industries Ltd.
In the following years, Rassai Properties and related companies including Beneficent Knowledge Parks and Properties Limited acquired about 600 acres of land in Parigi for setting up industries but no work has been done so far.
Ganesh, one of the affected farmers, said that the farmers have raise no objection when Indian Garments Company had established a unit in 10 acres of land of Nizam Sugars because there was some hope of employment. “But, how can the private players do their own real estate business in the land taken for setting up industries,” he questioned.
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“For the last four months, there have been numerous protest demonstrations against the real estate venture there. We have submitted representations to the district collector and concerned Tahsildar. But they did not even call for negotiations. What is happening in the land of Nizam sugar factory is against the Andhra Pradesh Government Order no 571, and the Land Acquisition Act 2013 (Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013),” said Peddana, who has been at the forefront of the protests.
“Since the Revenue and Police Departments appear to be favouring the interests of the owners of Rassai Properties, the farmers are planning to take their fight to the High Court,” he added.
According to farmers’ leaders, in the last four months, 15 farmers and activists have been arrested several times for participating in the protests and were booked under section 151, 308 and 298 of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
“Our families gave the land at low rates only because they expected a return of jobs and better living conditions. We started our protests after we learnt that real estate layouts are planned in Nizam Sugars Factory land. We want our land back or it should be used for industries but not for real estate business,” said Venkatesulu, another affected farmer.