‘Pharma city’ is ‘poison city’: Narasimha Reddy

Hyderabad: Webinar on Hyderabad Pharma City calls for cancellation of permissions to the anti-farmer, environmentally destructive Project

Indian American Forum organizes webinar

2nd Nov, 2020: The Indian Americans Forum organised a webinar on 31st Oct, on the grave implications and legality of the Hyderabad Pharma City coming up in over 19,333.20 acres of land in the biodiversity rich zone of Yacharam, Kadthal and Kandukur mandals, spread over 12 villages, abutting three big reserve forests.

The meet was addressed by Donthi Narasimha Reddy, a public policy reviewer, M. Kodanda Reddy, Vice president, All India Kisan Congress, B. Rachana Reddy, well known lawyer, crusader against land acquisition Act and Dr Mohammed Jameel from Indian American Forums and Suresh Ediga from I4farmers.

Making opening remarks, D. Narasimha Reddy alluded to the pharma city as a ‘poison city’. The situation when Telangana became a separate State as of January, 2015 was it had 2,091 major industries with a capital investment of Rs 45,393.33 crores, employing 6,67,499 people. On average, it cost Rs 6 lakhs to employ each person and on average these units employed 3,188 workers. But figures given by the government a week back for the year 2017-18 denote that on average, the units employ 146 people (62 workers and 74 employees) employing a total of 15.9 lakhs.

Pharma around Hyderabad

Giving the scale of the pharma around Hyderabad, Narasimha Reddy said it accounts for 20 percent of the total pharma exports of the country. 1/3rd of the products are manufactured in Telangana. Of the 412 pharma companies, 173 are bulk drug companies which are responsible for a majority of the pollution. The united Andhra Pradesh had 566 pharma companies, shows the concentration of the companies in Telangana predominantly. Of the Rs 2,10,622.50 crores of drugs produced, 50 percent of them Rs 1,07,226 crores are exported. This shows the majority of the drugs are produced for export exposing the argument about the imperative nature of the industry for domestic purposes.

While a conceptual plan for district development was laid out by the new Telangana State it has remained on paper. The new industrial policy promised incentives, ease in granting permissions and centered around building Hyderabad brand image. It said the government has 2,50,000 acres of land bank for industries. It promised 10 percent of the water available after construction of Mission Bhagiratha to industries at subsidised rates.

Despite the incentives the State is only attracting pharma companies only and the socio-economic survey of 2015 identified industrial pollution especially ground water pollution as a major problem but it did not reflect in the industrial policy of the State government. Telangana accounted for pharma exports of Rs 12,837 crores (36.22 percent) and organic chemicals of Rs 11,776 crores (33.23 percent). As per TS-iPASS of the permissions given between (January 1st, 2016 to January 24th, 2017) for units 169 were granted for pharma and chemical industries, involving an investment of Rs 4,055 crores creating 19,910 jobs. This amounts to 118 jobs per unit. Investment per job accounts to Rs 20 lakhs.

Though it is claimed that the current site for pharma city has been cleared after surveying four sites in Medak and Rangareddy district, it was done unscientifically through an aerial survey by the CM. Even the extent of the pharma city has been increased abruptly from 3,000 acres in 2015 to 12,733 acres in 2016 and to 19,733 acres in 2017. This shows the utter lack of planning. Their own estimated hazardous waste emitted in the pharma city is 1.5 lakh tonnes per annum. Even the estimated water consumption is 251 million litres per day at one place and 121.12 mld at another instance. Even the claim that 57.26 MLD of waste water will be produced is not reliable from usage of 251 million litres of water.

As on 8th December 2017, the government says it has acquired 6,812.28 acres of land from 2,020 families and the rest 12,333 acres will be taken from 1,727 families. The lands already taken in the first instance are mostly assigned lands, promising not to acquire lands with proper title. Even the claim of having distributed Rs 273,36,63,125 as compensation is not reliable given the average amount given to farmers. Media reports in May 2020 said the government has set a target to acquire 7,000 acres in the next 90 days.

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Pharma university, Satellite township

A pharma university and a satellite township over an area of 1,507 acres is to come up for a population of more than 12 lakhs shows the real estate plans behind the project. Water bodies in the area are spread over an extent of 150 acres. The government is saying it will bring the units which are within the ORR like Jeedimetla, Sanath Nagar, Patancheruvu in Hyderabad to the pharma city. Some 25 of them have expanded their units in the last three months which punctures the claim that they will shift to this area.

There are many SEZs in the State with unutilized land like Mallaram industrial area, chemical unit area near Rudraram, only 40 percent of the Polepally SEZ has been occupied along with a claimed land bank of 2,30,000 acre with the State government.

The pharma city is expected to attract an investment of Rs 64,000 crores with an estimated Rs 16,784 crores for infrastructural development. The city is projected to create direct employment for 1.7 lakh and indirectly create 3.9 lakh jobs. The industries sector had pegged it at 4,20,000 jobs in its 2017-18 annual report. This accounts for Rs 14,42,571 investment per job. Experience shows employment provided per unit is not more than 140 or 150 jobs. Even accepting 1,000 units are expected to be set up the employment generated will not cross the 1,50,000 mark which pooh-poohs the claim of 5 lakh job projection. Though it is claimed that only 10 villages will be affected, eventually almost 232 villages with a population of 6, 27, 941 will be affected. It is projected 12 lakh outsiders will eventually populate the area.

In the 19,333 acres nearly 6,000 acres are agricultural land. All of these villages have a population sans land of their own but the rehabilitation plans have not factored their woes.

Polluted air, water, land and dipping groundwater levels have become the hallmark of areas around pharma companies. The people around have been forced to buy water for drinking. Villages like Ismailkhanpet, Sultanpur, Gandigodam, Jinnaram don’t have any agriculture now as all water bodies are polluted and one has a choice to either work in the units there or migrate.

Experiences in Patancheruvu, Bollaram, Sultanpur, Gundlamachanur, Khajipalli, Jinnaram, Jeedimetla, Gaddapotaram, Paashamailaram along with Paravada pharma city (near Vishakhapatnam) don’t give us reason for believing the claims made.

Laws

Coming to the laws that have been violated in the process are the Environment Protection Act, 1986, land acquisition Act 2013 by bringing in a State land acquisition Act in 2017. Constitutionally guaranteed rights, denying information like DPR (detailed project report) of the pharma city, the Representation of People Act is being violated as public representatives have failed to be the voice of the people with the government.

M. Kondanda Reddy of Kisan Congress said as a person who hails from this area he knows how fresh vegetables are supplied to Hyderabad city. I am also conscious of the relation that binds the farmers with land. Farmers who were given assigned lands during the tenure of PM Indira Gandhi and CM Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy are to be treated on par with patta lands while acquiring as per the 2013 Land Acquisition Act. These assigned lands which were taken over by giving just Rs 7 lakhs compensation are being cultivated again now after we obtained a stay from the high court. The project is being opposed by the villages around the proposed area also.

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“As a people’s representative and former chairman of Hyderabad Urban Development Authority, I had taken steps for shifting of many polluting industries in Azamabad, an industrial area from the Nizam era. It took 5 years to do that. Even the tanneries were shifted from Bolakpur area. When I was the HUDA Chairman, the National Remote Sensing Authority of India in 1994 had given a report that this area should be conserved. Even the master plan prepared by HUDA in consultation with experts from across the country had given the same opinion. The State government has watered down the rehabilitation and resettlement norms by bringing an Act and exempted the pharma city from 2013 Act by issuing a GO. The present local MLA, is threatening the farmers with strong arm tactics like foisting non bailable cases on 44 farmers. Some of them are out on bail now”.

Rachana Reddy, a lawyer and activist delving into the legalities explained that the GO 123 issued was stayed as it bypassed the 2013 Act. To circumvent this the State government brought a separate State specific act allowing consensual acquisition of land from farmers. This was specifically barred by the 2013 Act as they are non-transparent, cannot be judged, do not stand scrutiny and nothing can be proved and mandated the steps to be taken for land acquisitions.

Thus, by introducing the consensual deals the social impact assessment was exempted from power projects, housing projects, irrigation projects, coal projects. Literally all infrastructure projects are exempted from this now. This is necessary as the survey dwells into the socio-economic fabric of the area which include the caste composition of the area, livelihood of people there, education, economic capabilities, what is the dependency on forest, land etc scientifically. Thus, there is no socio- economic assessment of projects in Telangana as of now. The MLA of the area illegally said they would give higher compensation for consensual and less for general award in acquisition of land which is illegal as per the high court judgment. This is being done in all projects now.

The revenue departments don’t want to go through the scientific process under the 2013 Act and feel the projects cannot take off if done under it. The governments can invoke eminent domain clauses under it acquisition cannot be denied unless there is something fraudulent in it. The environmental impact assessment was done fraudulently, with coercion with outsiders making false acceptance for the project. So that has to be questioned. Land acquisition cannot happen without environmental clearance but some land has been acquired without it. “We are questioning the exemptions given to pharma city from social impact assessment and also dispute the exemptions given under the State Act do not cover the pharma city. We have filed individual cases and also the one which rejects the very existence of the project in a court of law on the manner in which it was brought into being. We have to see how this goes ahead from here”.

Demands from the State Government

  1. Cancel all the permissions granted to the Hyderabad Pharma City.
  2. Establish only environmentally and sustainable development goal-oriented industries, with consent of the affected people. The State’s industrial policy should be geared towards this.
  3. Review TS-iPASS, ease of doing business and pharma city proposals.
  4. Take up pollution-mitigating measures and protect villages and people.
  5. Stop using agricultural land for other (non-farm) purposes, especially when such land is irrigated land.
  6. Reject all requests for expansion of existing units and new units in the State.
  7. A comprehensive rehabilitation package, with guarantees of alternative land and livelihood options to the project-affected should be announced and ensured.
  8. Strong measures should be taken against industrial pollution.
  9. A development model suited for Telangana in consultation with people should be chalked out.

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