Traffic on the Mumbai-Goa national highway was on Tuesday disrupted as 500-odd farmers protesting against the setting up of a special economic zone in Raigad district blocked the road for more than two hours.
Vehicles going from Mumbai towards Goa and Konkan were diverted from Panvel via Khopoli and Pali as the stretch near Pen at Vashi naka was blocked by farmers protesting against the Maharashtra government's decision to approve the rehabilitation and resettlement package announced by Mumbai SEZ Pvt Ltd, a Reliance Industries company.
MSEZPL is developing an SEZ in 35 villages of three talukas of Raigad district.
However, some of the agitating farmers were not fully aware of what SEZs mean or the compensation package.
Eknath Thakur, a farmer from Div village who owns two-and-a-half acres, said: "We would not have opposed the land acquisition if any industry was coming here. But the SEZ will only fulfil the needs of the super rich, while the locals will get petty jobs."
While a majority of the farmers made similar complaints against SEZs, some questioned the R&R package. Haridas Mhatre from Wadhav village claimed, "Reliance is offering us Rs 10 lakh per acre. Even if we believe in their promise of giving 12.5 per cent land back to us, the rate will not go above Rs 25 lakh. Land in this area is fetching not less than Rs 60 lakh per acre. Why should we sell our land to Reliance?" he asked.
Social activist Surekha Dalvi, who participated in the agitation, said: "Today's agitation was mainly against the state government's decision to accept the R&R package announced by Reliance without inviting suggestions from the farmers."