MANGALORE: Leaders of the successful SEZ Virodhi Manch of Goa interacted with farmers and residents of eight villages that have been notified for the 4,000-acre Mangalore SEZ.
At an awareness camp organised by the Nagarika Seva Trust Guruvayanakere and the Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshana Samiti here on Wednesday, the Goan entourage launched a scathing attack on the concept of SEZs.
Speaking to The Hindu, on the sidelines of the event, Praveen Sasmi termed SEZs “anti-constitutional” and “anti-democratic”.
His counterpart Simon Fernandez added, “It is also an anti-people and anti-national land-grabbing exercise.”
Expounding on the Goa movement, Mr. Sasmi said that the moral high ground for the movement was achieved when the common people realised that it was a completely apolitical struggle.
“Once people realised that we had no affiliations the rest just fell into place,” he said.
Frankie Monteiro was the one who unearthed a the frauds in the Goan SEZ projects.
He said that the foundation for a strong people’s movement was information.
Hailing the Right to Information Act, he said, “Once we had gathered all the proof of the swindling that had occurred, there was no looking back. The truth helped us convince people.” Mr. Monteiro talked at length to the residents about the use of the RTI Act.
Charles Fernandez, another member of the group, said that it was disappointing that only people who were going to be directly affected by the project were agitating against it.
“Everyone in this region will be affected. Everything will change and the message must be spread.”
He said the reason that the Goa movement was successful was because the common people jumped into the fray. “None of us in this group are land losers,” he said.
Peter Gama said that the Mangalore case was slightly complicated because some people whose lands were notified in the first phase had already accepted the compensation package.
“However, that should not alter the movement much,” he added.