Una: As if trying to prove every word that scholars from all over the country said against SEZs during a national-level seminar at the Indian Institute Of Advanced Studies last week, hundreds of farmers from around 20 villages in Gagret area of Una district staged a fierce protest against the proposed SEZ and airport in Gagret. While a low intensity protest had been building up ever since the projects were given in-principle nod, the residents this time vowed to fight it out till the very end. The agitation may well mean turbulent times for the state government, which has proudly announced to create a land pool for industrialists desirous of setting up business in Himachal.
In fact, Gagret could well prove to be Himachal’s Singur considering the complexity of the issue. and the public disapproval of the project. Over 400 people gathered at Bhanjal village near Mubarakpur under the umbrella of Matribhumi Sangharsh Samiti and also burnt an effigy of the Union Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath.
“We would run a special awareness campaign to educate people against the ill consequences of SEZs. We would make it a mass movement,’ said president of the farmers’ front, Dulambh Singh. The Sangharsh Samiti has decided to hold meetings on smaller scale in villages during evenings where farmers would be educated about the alleged biased nature of the projects.
Legal adviser of the protesting farmers’ group, Narender Parmar, said that the District Revenue Officer would visit the SEZ site on October 16 for conducting an inquiry into the facts shown in the government’s survey that was done in February. He claimed the survey presented false figures on important parameters like population, status of land and forests.