The Karnataka story

The developer, Mumbai based SKIL Infrastructure had submitted the proposal in 2003, only to get approval in 2007. Ironically, the Government went ahead despite strong disagreement among its own departments, especially Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA) which was developing a township right next to the area.

The Revenue Department was also sceptical about handing over such a huge area to a private developer. Never once were the farmers in the area consulted about the project which would result in large scale displacement and a good many were not even aware when the government gave the nod.

The protests followed swift and furious and picked up pace as the issue touched a chord with the rest of the nation about what was perceived as anti-farmer policies. None of the farmers were ready to part with their land as they rejected the pecuniary compensation as well as the developed land in exchange that was being offered.

The protests of the farmers’ organisations which united against the acquisition of green fields evaporated the chances of the developers who had promised to invest over Rs 15,000 crore. By 2009, no attempt was even made to approach the farmers to procure land. As of now, the SEZ remains merely on paper.

The same party that gave a nod to the  SEZ, did a volte face when it came to land that was to be parted for the building of the Bangalore-Mysore Expressway by the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise.

The farmers were unhappy about giving up the land. Protests followed, but what created a crisis was the JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda joining the agitators in a tailored opportunity to launch an attack on the ruling BJP government.

What has followed are multiple cases in the High Court protesting the acquisition. Recently, the Supreme Court criticised the government for failure to provide land for the project. A stung government instantly declared that henceforth it would be the developer’s job to acquire lands.

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