In July this year, in the village of Gautam Budh Nagar in Noida, South Korean electronics major Samsung set up what it called the “world’s largest mobile factory”, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the hopes of putting Noida on top of the world manufacturing map, the company acquired over 30 acres of land, promising employment to the farmers in the region.
Fast forward to three months later-- while Samsung’s Rs 4,000 crore investment is yielding them humongous profits, the farmers and their children are out on the streets, still waiting for the electronics giant to keep its promise on jobs.
On October 10, over 500 farmers along with their families, staged a massive protest at the company’s phase-2 plant. They demanded that the company must fulfill its “promise” of giving jobs to 1, 000 youths from local villages of Gautam Budh Nagar. Additionally, 50% of the jobs should be reserved for the family members of the farmers who had lost their land in acquisition for different projects in the district.
The protests were held under the banner of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and supported by outfits such as Sanyukta Kisan Morcha, Akhil Bhartiya Gurjar Parishad and the Kisan Sabha. The protests have been ongoing from the past four months. Gangeshwar Dutt Sharma, representative, CITU, told NewsClick, “Our primary question to the administration and the government is that why is the government unfairly treating the farmers? It (the plant) is benefiting the big industry and making their children suffer.” He said the protesting farmers are making attempts to engage in negotiations with the government, but if this fails, the agitation will be taken to another level, since this is a question of livelihood of the people.”
While clearances were given to the South Korean giant on the pretext that it will be doubling its mobile phone production, however, in doing so, the government has blatantly ignored the voices of farmers. The 30-acre land acquired by the company had many farmer families dependent on it.
“Our other demand was a minimum monthly wage of Rs 20,000.Until approved by the government, we have demanded that workers be paid wages on a par with the minimum wage per month in Delhi — Rs 13,896. In Uttar Pradesh, the minimum wage per month is just Rs 7,600,” Sharma said.
Instead of taking cognisance of the demands of the farmers, the government has tried to brush the issue under the carpet. Suspecting a fresh round of agitation by the farmers, 67 persons were also made to sign a “peace pact” with a bond of Rs 50,000 to maintain peace in the area.
In August, over 80 people were arrested at the Samsung plant for protesting against the company based in sector 81 of Noida. Sharma said, “Multinational companies do not provide jobs to local youth… so we have demanded that local youth be given jobs at factories set up in Noida and Greater Noida.”
On July 9, Modi and President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in inaugurated Samsung India Electronics’ new mobile phone manufacturing facility in Noida’s Sector 81. The land was allotted to Samsung in 2016 to set up its manufacturing unit. This was done despite the company already acquiring a 45-acre plot for its industrial unit in phase-2 the industrial area of Noida.