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Trouble in offing for Reliance SEZ as farmers in Haryana's Jhajjar demand their land back
Big trouble may be in offing for Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Industries Limited as residents of Jhajjar district in Haryana falling under Rohtak Lok Sabha constituency, represented by Deepender Hooda, who is son of Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda, have demanded that land purchased by Reliance for setting up the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the district should be declared surplus and returned to the Govt. or the original landowners as the SEZ has not come in to existence.

After failing to persuade Bhupinder Hooda and his son Deepender Hooda farmers have taken legal route.

Ajit Balaji Joshi, Deputy Commissioner cum Collector of Jhajjar district has issued notice to M/S Reliance Haryana Special Economic Zone limited, Registered office at Gurgaon through its Director on a writ petition filed by seven citizens of Jhajjar district led by whistleblower and Aam Adami Party activist Ram Kumar popularly known as Dr. Saheb in political circles of Haryana and six others namely Nafe Singh,Mange Ram, another Ram Kumar, Anar Singh, Narpat Singh and Krishan Kumar to appear before him to explain their viewpoint.

Petition filed under the provisions of Haryana Ceiling of Land Holding Act,1972,  has prayed for declaring the land as surplus.

Petition says that M/S Reliance Haryana Special Economic Zone Limited, incorporated under the companies Act had purchased about seven thousands and seven hundred acres of agriculture land from farmers of twenty villages of the district for setting up Special Economic Zone.

As per the above act any company can own and hold maximum of eighteens standard acres of agriculture land in its name. Further as per section 9(1) of the act, the person holding land in excess of the prescribed limits is required to furnish declaration of the surplus land.

Petitioners have argued that in view of the above section, the Reliance Haryana SEZ Limited was bound to furnish the details of the land purchased from the farmers from October, 2006 onwards in Jhajjar district. Since the company had failed to file the declaration as mandated by the said Act so far, which is violation of the provisions of the Act, therefore it is prayed that the land held in excess of the prescribed limit by the above company be declared surplus and the same be vested in Govt. or returned to the original land owners of the land in interest of justice.

It is further stated that the land held by the above company do not fall in any of the provisions of section five of the Act. Even the provision(G) to (I) added to section five by the Haryana Ceiling Land Holding Act no 20 of 2011 (deemed to have come into force w.e.f from 1975 ) do not provide any exemption to the land held by above company as this area was declared as urban only on14th Februray, 2011. Hence the land purchased or held prior to 14th February are in no way exempted from the Ceiling Act

Reliance had planned two SEZs one in Gurgaon and other in Jhajjar. In Gurgaon Small Industries Development Corporation had transferred land owned by it and some land was purchased by Ambani from farmers.

The area was turned into police cantonment when Ambani's company had taken Possession of the land. SEZ did not came and Ambani had surrendered the land. At that time Kuldeep Bishnoi, MLA, had sought information under the R.T.I. act about the project.

Meanwhile the crucial final hearing on petitions challenging the validity of special economic zone policy was postponed by the Supreme Court on last Thursday, which asked Haryana government to apprise it of the current status of land allocated to Reliance Industries Ltd which has withdrawn from one such project.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, which commenced the hearing on a bunch of petitions on last Wednesday, noted that Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation has not placed the response to the PIL seeking quashing of 1,383 acres of land allocated for SEZ in Gurgaon.

However, senior advocate Amarender Sharan, appearing for the corporation, informed the bench that Mukesh Ambani's RIL has withdrawn from the project and the land for the proposed SEZ has been returned to the state government. The bench also comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh, asked Haryana Government to file an affidavit about the current status of the land allocated for the SEZ and posted the PILs for hearing on February 13.

Haryana Janhit Congress leader Kuldeep Bishnoi and Ajay Singh Chautala of Indian National Lok Dal have raised questions about the acquisition of farmland for SEZs in the state. According to the proposal, Haryana will have 30 per cent stake in the SEZ. The land allotment was made from about 12,000 acres acquired by the state government in Gurgaon in 2003.

However, later in January 2012, RIL offered to return the land and it was de-notified in June, 2013.

Seven years after the first plea was made, the Supreme Court had commenced the final hearing on last Wednesday on a bunch of petitions challenging the validity of the SEZ policy of the Centre and the laws governing it for acquisition of land in the country.

The apex court will examine the contentions and counter contentions raised by farmers, politicians and big corporate on the issue of controversial land acquisitions in different parts of the country to set up SEZs.

All the petitions filed across the country since 2006 on the issue of SEZ Act, 2005 have been clubbed. .

The allocation of land by state governments, including to Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Industries in Punjab and Haryana and Anil Ambani-run Reliance Energy in Uttar Pradesh, for developing SEZs are under scrutiny.

The petitioners, including farmers group from different states, have submitted that governments should be prohibited from allowing use of agricultural land for purposes other than crop cultivation and contended acquisition of land for business growth of private companies by the government was illegal.

Big business houses, which have been allocated land for SEZ development, have opposed the pleas.

These zones were given exemption from sales taxes, duties, fees, cess and levies. Apart from this people were debarred from filing any legal proceedings against any person for anything which is done in good faith or intended to be done in good faith in pursuance of the above Act or rule made there under. Shockingly despite this country’s top industrialist had miserably failed to set up these zones and people of Haryana feel cheated.

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