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Farmers, fishermen hit by SIPCOT units: UN team

1 April 2010

The Hindu

A.V. Ragunathan Says forcible land acquisition has resulted in migration

CUDDALORE: A three-member United Nations team led by Oliver de Schutter, Special Rapporteur for Right to Food, on Wednesday visited some villages to assess the impact of SIPCOT industries on the livelihood of farmers and fishermen.

Mr. Schutter told reporters that the industrial estates/zones had disrupted the livelihood of the farming and fishing communities. Forcible land acquisition had reduced many landowners to the level of daily wage earners and forced many of them to migrate in search of livelihood as they could not sustain themselves on the meagre compensation provided.

Mr. Schutter was on a visit organised by social activists and environmentalists.

When cultivable lands were appropriated for industrial purposes the resultant pollution muddied the sea water, which led to dwindling fish catch, endangering marine life and affecting the livelihood of fisher folk.

Mr. Schutter said he would put out a report seeking an explanation from government agencies and companies as to how could they occupy vast swathe of cultivable lands, thereby depriving the right to food security.

Mr. Schutter underscored the point that he was here to ascertain the views of the people who had owing to industrialisation and not to pass judgement.

The aggrieved persons had strong civil society such as the Food First Information and Action Network, Tamil Nadu (FIAN) and the Consumer Federation Tamil Nadu (CONFET) to take up their cause.

They could also broach the subject with the village leaders and lawyers. He would make similar assessments in some other Asian countries and present the findings to the UN Secretary-General in October.

The two other members of the UN team were Precilla and Kaitlin Codes.

D. Gurusamy, secreraty, FIAN; M.Nizamudeen, executive secretary, CONFET; K. Venkatapathi and K. Venkatesan of the Cuddalore District Farmers' Association; C. Vaiyapuri of the United Farmers' Association; T. Manivasagam, district secretary, CPI; and others provided inputs to the team.

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