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Mahindra's SEZ at Karla, Maharashtra, India


Mahindra Lifespace Developers Ltd proposed a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Karla village on the old Pune-Mumbai road in Pune District of Maharashtra. In 2006, the Mahindra group had received in-principle approval for setting up this SEZ. In 2006, the government had notified around 1,140 hectare of land for this project. The overall area of the proposed SEZ was to be spread over an area of 3,000 acres [1]. Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) along with Mahindra Lifespace Developers Ltd had announced an investment of Rs.20 billion to build this multi-product SEZ. The feasibility report for the project was prepared in May 2009 [2]. Following the announcement, there was violent protests erupted at Karla by farmers as well as non farmer groups against the land acquisition process. Villagers' opposed the project because it will disconnect the road to the well-known temple of ‘Ekvira goddess’. The temple is located near the Buddhist era caves and of religious importance of the people inhabited in that area. Beside this, a number of villages were to be displaced. Many villagers did not want to shift their place of living under any circumstances. Both the MIDC and Mahindra Group were not able to acquire the land following the protest.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Mahindra's SEZ at Karla, Maharashtra, India
State or province:Maharastra
Location of conflict:Village-Karla; Pune
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Chemical industries
Other industries
Land acquisition conflicts
Manufacturing activities
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In 2007, the Mahindra group had received in-principle approval from the Government of Maharashtra for setting up the SEZ at Karla in Pune, Maharashtra. MIDC had signed a memorandum of agreement with the Mahindra Group the state governments giving in-principle sanction to the project. The proposed SEZ was being developed jointly with the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC). The SEZ was planned in an area of approx 1,200 hectares, of which 1,187 hectares in the different villages located near Karla. It was meant for the industrial activities like auto parts, light engineering, and electronics and many others [1].

Project area:1,214
Level of Investment for the conflictive project$333,357,446 (Rs. 20 billion)
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2006
End of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:Mahindra Lifespaces from India
Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) from India
Mahindra Group from India
Relevant government actors:Government of Maharashtra, Government of India
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Local Villagers
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Landless peasants
Social movements
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Other Environmental impacts
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Land demarcation
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Proposal and development of alternatives:The proposed land for the project is cultivable and multi-crop farm land. So, farmers did not want to lose their cultivable land which is their main means of livelihood. There was an intense pressure and violent opposition from the local people, including non-farmers. This leads to heavy oppression by the police to fire on protesting mobs [5]. Seeing at the fierce opposition and intense pressure from farmers and local villagers, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and Mahindra group have withdrawn the SEZ at Karla [5].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The company had conducted a social impact assessment and local community impact study to know the sentiments of the villagers. After hearing them, the company has decided not to go ahead with the project. The project is not scrapped, but will redefine the boundaries of the earlier project. According the concerned authority, even if the SEZ is scrapped, the land acquisition will go ahead and the land will be used for some other industrial activity [1]
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

SEZ Act 2005 - SEZ India
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

MICHAEL LEVIEN, Special Economic Zones and Accumulation by Dispossession in India Journal of Agrarian Change, Vol. 11 No. 4, October 2011, pp. 454–483.
[click to view]

[1] Mahindra's SEZ at Karla hits roadblock
[click to view]

[2] Four SEZ projects scrapped in Maharashtra
[click to view]

[3] For SEZ problems a solution in sight
[click to view]

[4] Mahindra project in Karla and Videocon plan in Wagholi cancelled.
[click to view]

[5] State bows to local oppn, scraps four SEZ projects
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1432
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