Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Vote on SEZ: 94% farmers say no in Pen, Raigad, Maharashtra


Vote on SEZ: 94% farmers say no

Pen, Oct. 6: Days after the Tatas pulled out of Singur, activists opposed to the Mukesh Ambani-promoted special economic zone in Raigad today claimed 94 per cent of the farmers who took part in last month’s “referendum” did not want to part with their land for the project.

The committee leading the agitation against the proposed multi-product SEZ, spread over 25,000 acres in paddy-rich Pen in coastal Raigad, today released data based on acknowledgement receipts collected during the “referendum” of September 21.

Nearly 20,000 farmers from 22 villages, who stand to lose 5,700 acres, took part in the exercise. The villages are located in the command area of the upcoming Hetawane dam, which, the farmers say, would solve their irrigation problems.

The Maharashtra government had initially termed it a “referendum”, but later described it as an “opinion seeking exercise”.

During the exercise, the anti-SEZ committee had distributed pink-coloured forms as acknowledgement receipts from farmers opposing the project to enable them to do a counting process later.

According to the report released by the panel, a total of 23,969 farmers were eligible to cast their vote on whether they wish to give up their land. Of these, 19,868 collectively owning 6,199 landed properties have refused to part with their land, and told the government to withdraw notices served under the Land Acquisition Act.

Each property has several claimants or family members listed in the land documents.

“If you go by the landed properties instead of individual farmers, out of the 6,199 forms received on the day of mandate, 5,866, or 94 per cent, opposed it,” said Vaishali Patil, who was leading the anti-SEZ agitation along with activist Ulka Mahajan, and Peasants and Workers Party leader N.D. Patil.

Patil, who addressed the committee’s news conference in Pen town, said the panel would grant the government time till October 21 to withdraw the acquisition notices. If not, the farmers would intensify their agitation, he said.



Mr, Banerjee said...

A single question "referendum" is a bad idea to begin with for a helluva lot of reasons, and i'm exlcuding voter fraud or such.

For example, the referendum doesn't reflect the will of the constituents outside the narrow view of the "yes/no" question.

A multi-question poll would've better represented the will of the voters.

Had there been multiple questions in the referendum like a telephone poll, say, "would the farmers give up their land for better compensation" we might have had a different picture.

The framing of the question in the referendum ballot is also of suspect. Any expert on elections and political polling will agree.

there can be a small journal article on defects of such a referendum and how unrepresentative they are in these scenarios but you get the picture.

i'm not saying the referendum is a complete doodoo which it probably isn't but i'm just pointing out to huge gaping holes in local premise and methodology of such "referendums".