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Maharashtra spells end of Reliance SEZ?

Staff Reporter

Mumbai: In a move that could spell the end of Reliance Group's Mumbai Special Economic Zone (MSEZ), the Maharashtra Government has issued a notification to de-notify the land acquisition process for the project that saw stiff opposition from villagers. State Revenue Minister Balasaheb Bhausaheb Thorat told The Hindu that the remark “land earmarked for acquisition” would be removed from all the land titles for the total SEZ area of 16,900 acres.

Farmer organisations and activists have hailed the development as “a victory of farmer struggles”. In September 2008, 22 of the 45 villages, comprising the SEZ, had cast their ‘vote' in a referendum of sorts. These villages had strongly opposed the project as the loss of agricultural land.They felt that it would rob them of livelihood.

“The acquisition process had lapsed, but the ban on land transactions was not lifted. With the notification, the acquisition process stands cancelled,” activist Ulka Mahajan told The Hindu.

Mr. Thorat said that after Reliance proposed the SEZ in 2005, acquisition notices were issued under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act in the same year. In 2007, the process of acquisition was rolled out under section 6 (declaration that land is required for a public purpose) of the Act. It had to be completed within two years, but this could not happen due to opposition to the SEZ.

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