No To SEZ And A Dalit Question
- No To SEZ And A Dalit Question
Contact: Palash C Biswas, C/O Mrs Arati Roy, Gosto
Kanan, Sodepur, Kolkata- 700110, India. Phone:
Skriti Biswas, Bengal RPI leader raised the issue from
the dias of the two day national convention on SEZ and
Nandigram Saturday Afternoon in Kolkata, which went
abegging.The convention, which was to be held at the
Salt Lake stadium initially, was evented at the Netaji
Institute in Sealdah. No doubt, there is an urgent
need to have a open discussion on Nandigram and every
effort in that direction is highly welcome.We
appreciate this convention on Nandigram at Kolkata and
hope that better and tangible results will emerge out
of it which will prove beneficial for the people.But
without addressing the basic questions related to
Caste Hindu supremacy in Bengali society, Nandigram
resistance has to expire some day. As the mini poll
has indicated, the CPIM`s scientific Election
Machinery and Gestapo are quite copetent to meet
whatsoever challanges any time , under any
circumstances! Without a real dalit movement Left
Front has to stay in power and Buddha is quite certain
to romp home!
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Role of all political parties - in the Nandigram
fiasco and other anti-land acquisition movement-
should be analysed. It is not only CPIM, that is to be
blamed for the controversies revolving around the
setting up of SEZ accross the country, activist Medha
Patkar said. Talking to the scribes on the sidelines
of the two day National convention,Medha said that
role played by all political parties, as far as
framing and implementing of SEZ policy is concerned,
needs to be assessed well.
She said,` SABHIO PARTIES KI BHOOMIKA TALASHNI
CHAHIYE-- AISA NAHI KI BAKEE SAB DOODH KE DHULE HAIN.
AUR KEVAL CPIM DOSHI HAI.
Medha, however, did not spare CPIM either. She
criticised CPIM`s role in Nandigram and hitted very
hard. She said,`What`s BJP we know,. But these ( the
deaths in Nandigram) are not fake encounters as
discovered in Gujrat . These are real encounters!
She said very clearly,` All parties are responsible at
one level, but in Nandigram episode CPIM is most
Participants in the convention also doubt Trinamools
resistance in Nandigram. I wonder if the Trinamool
subscribes to the demand to abolish SEZs, said
Dipankar Bhattacharya, general secretary, CPI(M-L).
The convention has four major demands abolition of
the SEZ Act, 2005, abolition of Land Acquisition Act,
1894, resignation of CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and
autonomy for peoples institutions at the grassroots
to decide issues like land acquisition and
development. The convention is being attended by
almost 1,000 social workers besides Roy, Mahasweta
Devi, Medha Patkar, Dipankar Bhattacharya, John Dayal,
Debabrata Bandopadhyay, G N Saibaba, Ulka Mahajan and
The Trinamool Congress and the Gana Unnayan O Jana
Adhikar Sangram Samiti have been partners in the
Bhoomi Ucched Pratirodh Committee the forum that has
been agitating against the state governments proposed
land acquisition plan at Nandigram. Trinamool,
however, has been kept out of this two-day convention.
Samiti representatives claimed no invitation was sent
out separately to various organisations. Participants
have come in on their own, after the convention was
Sukriti made a serious allegation that Muslims and
dalits are being used by Caste Hindu politicians,
intelectual and activists! As they mobilise the
underprevileged and Have Nots against the ststepower
with an issue like SEZ, but they are least concerned
with socil scenetrio in Bengal and India.These people
have no sympathy with the persecuted refugees, dalits,
tribal and Muslims. They happen to be silent on issues
like Sacchar Committee recommendations, citizenship
amendment act and deportation drive, reservation and
quota! How is this possible that they oppose
capitalist Marxist CPIM and are quite detached to make
any change in the social scenerio!
Well, here you are! Mahashweta devi, Mamta Bannerjee
and Shaoli Mitra do not stand on the same ground where
Jamaet Ul Hind leader Sidicullah Chowdhari or sukriti
THe convention was highlighted as the focus was on
international Icons like Arundhati Ray, Sandeep
pandey, Medha Patkar, Mahashweta Devi and Dipankar
Bhattacharya , simply because Bite Value. Sukriti has
not any bite Value.
Another dalit leader from Ambedkar Mission DR.
Debashish Majumdar pointed out that Nandigram
Rsistance is basically a dalit uprising. He said that
the Dalits and Muslims may change the scenerio with a
real Nationwide Dalit Movement.
The National Convention was spectacular for large
scale participation of Muslims, nearly half the
delegates and dalits. A bunch of Bhumi Ucched
Committee leaders quoted the history of peasants`
movement and Tamralipta uprising during British Raj.
It was the call of the day, a nationwide dalit
Movement led by Dalits and Muslims and supported by
democratic sections of other communities. Some other
dalit speakers quoted Ambedkar and Guruchand Thakur
and insisted to punish Buddhdev Bhattacharya. Bhumi
Ucched Committe leaders demanded immediate arrest of
Buddhadev for Nandigram Genocide. They argued, SEZ or
no SEZ, the Genocide should not be forgotten!
The low profile delegates also insisted to ensure a
democratic environment in Bengal before any peace
initiative.My dear friends, do understand the left
strategy of survival,West Bengal's ruling Left
Frontdesperate to seek an escape route Saturday said
the all-party peace talks on Nandigram, which
collapsed with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata
Banerjee walking out of a meet after her demand to
call the March 14 mayhem a genocide was shot down,
would continue at all levels - the state, the district
and the block. It is insisting to bargain with Mamat
Bannerjee and her party TMC, isolating Bhumi Ucched
Committee and Jamate Ul Hind. Subhash Chakrabarti, as
the Bengal Sports minister has the final say in
affairs related to Salt Lake stadium. Chakrabarti
ultimately denied the convention its venue. Why? Mamat
is not invited. It was Chakrabarti, who interuppted
Mamata in the All Party Meeting and because of his
comments, Mamta Walked out. Now the convention skipped
Mamta. In Fact, the Left is trying its best to isolate
Mamta Bannerjee from other forces of Nandigram
However, the communists said the March 14 police
firing cannot be called 'genocide' going by the
dictionary meaning of the expression and hence it
would not be part of the draft of the talks as
demanded by Banerjee.
'The Left Front today decided that the talks would
continue not only at the state level (as demanded by
Banerjee earlier leading to the May 24 abortive peace
meeting) but also at the district and block levels,'
said Forward Bloc (West Bengal) secretary and veteran
Left leader Ashok Ghosh Saturday.
'Left Front chairman Biman Bose would be in charge of
the modalities of the same,' Ghosh said after a Left
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, who attended
the meeting, wanted Ghosh to take the leading role in
the talks as before so that Banerjee could again be
persuaded to join the talks.
The all-party talks had collapsed on its first day on
May 24 with Banerjee's walkout over the word
'genocide'. She had demanded that the March 14 police
firing that killed 14 be called genocide, but
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders shot
down the demand.
Renowned author and social activist Arundhati Roy has
questioned Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjees
role in the Nandigram imbroglio. In the city to attend
a two-day convention on Nandigram and Special
Economic Zones that began from Saturday, Roy said
Mamatas design in the Nandigram incident is
opportunistic and cynical. Roy said the burning
issue of acquiring land for industry in the state,
which has stoked popular imagination in the entire
country, has been turned into a game between the
Trinamool and the CPI(M). The Trinamool is no
different from the CPI(M). They would have done the
same thing if they were in power, Roy said. Roy has
criticised the manner in which local residents of the
area have driven each other out, mutilating a
humanitarian issue to suit political pursuits. On the
present situation, Roy said the government is using
all its resources to deoxygenate the place and the
people. She said people will not be able to survive in
such an environment. How many dead people per acre is
the government willing to accept to create SEZs? Time
has come to decide on what we want ten per cent
growth or democracy? she asked. The author said land
acquisition cases in the entire country cannot be
considered in isolation, hinting at the need to
formulate a comprehensive policy on SEZs.
Medha Patkar visits Singur
Hooghly (Singur): Social activist Medha Patkar today
visited the houses of two Singur farmers who had
committed suicide after their lands were acquired by
the state government without their consent for Tata
Motors' small car project. Patkar went to the house of
Prasanta Das in Khaser Bheri village and that of
Haradhan Bag in Beraberi village. Das and Bag had
committed suicide on May 25 and in February
"The West Bengal Government and the Tatas were equally
responsible for these suicides," Patkar alleged.
She said special economic zones were mushrooming in
the country and the farmers were bearing the brunt.
The villagers asked Patkar to continue her fight
against acquisition of farmland for industry saying
that many people had not willingly handed over their
lands to the government.
Trinamool Congress chief, Mamata Banerjee, will visit
the area tomorrow.
Reliance Doors Open!
Uncertainty over handing over a city market to Mukesh
Ambani-owned Reliance Retail Ltd for redevelopment
seemed to have ended with Left Front allies, which had
initially opposed the idea, now waving their green
signal to the Kolkata Municipal Corp (KMC).The
decision was taken at the Left Front's district
committee level meeting Friday where the Front
partners- Forward Bloc, Communist Party of India (CPI)
and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) - finally
endorsed the civic body's decision to hand over the
Park Circus Municipal Market in central Kolkata to
Reliance Retail for reconstruction.
"I have explained to the Front leaders that we have
allowed Reliance Retail for redevelopment of the
market since they are the highest bidders in the
global tender call. The question of allowing them for
retail business comes much later," said KMC mayor
Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya.But whether Reliance
Retail Ltd (RRL) would be allowed to start the retail
business in a particular portion of the reconstructed
building would be decided later, Bhattacharyya said.
The Left parties were principally opposed to the entry
of Reliance in retail market.
The Mukesh Ambani-owned RRL attended the global tender
call of KMC - the largest civic body in West Bengal -
for redeveloping the Park Circus Municipal market.
According to KMC sources, RRL was the highest bidder
that agreed to pay over Rs.30 million for the project.
RRL was given the market building on a 99-year lease
by the Kolkata civic authority.
Earlier, the proposal of handing over the market to
Reliance was deferred in the KMC Mayor-in-Council
(MiC) meeting as the Left Front partners disagreed
with the mayor's willingness to rope in Reliance for
The world's second largest professional services
company with an annual revenue of $20 billion,
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, has decided to expand its
services range in Kolkata by setting up an enterprise
application software services delivery centre, its
second one in India after Mumbai.
According to Dileep Choksi, the joint management
partner of Deloitte, one of the big four global
consulting companies, it will start offering its full
range of consulting business--from audit and tax
consulting to financial advisory services--to its
eastern region clients as well as companies located in
other parts of India and abroad.
While the West Bengal government is still scouting for
100 acres for Infosys Technologies as it failed to
acquire the land opposite to Vedic Village at Rajarhat
in New Town within the March 30 deadline, Deloitte's
decision to set up its own office at Sector V in Salt
Lake Electronics Complex comes as a relief to it.
Deloitte's entry in application software business can
be a good news for Debesh Das, the Bengal IT minister,
who these days is busy in fixing a meeting with
Infosys officials so that they can have a look at an
alternative site in and around Kolkata.
Deloitte plans to start its full-fledged operations
within the next six weeks with 100 people initially.
The majority of them will be in application software
developement, said Choksi.
We cant discourage investments: Buddha
Posted online: Saturday, June 02, 2007 at 0011 hours
NEW DELHI, JUNE 1: No matter the unrest in Nandigram
or Singur, industrialisation in West Bengal will
continue. This has been reaffirmed by chief minister
Writing in the latest issue of CPI (M) organ The
Marxist, Bhattacharjee strove to to remove doubts over
theoretical and ideological issues gripping
development in the state.
He has made it clear that his government will not do
anything to discourage foreign investment in the
The piece is considered an attempt to bridge the gap
between the Left Front partners, miffed with the
Nandigram episode, and the CPI(M).
Some of Bhattacharjee's party colleagues, too, have
been critical of the "blind industrialisation" in the
Against this backdrop, Bhattacharjee has listed his
arguments for industrialisation and the push being
given to investments. "The Opposition is of the view
(and a few Left Front partners) that the foreign
capitalists are rushing in on their own to exploit us.
The actual picture is different. There is tough
competition all around. We cannot discourage
investment. Had there been an alternative to the
present form of investment we would have opted for it.
The idea is that we need private capital, with limits
set, and not everywhere," Bhattacharjee said in the
However, he asserted that his party would not allow
FDI in the retail sector.
Maintaining that the Left Front government is "closely
watching" the changes in Communist-ruled countries in
Asia and Latin America, the chief minister said the
model set by them is not being followed in West
"It will be a mistake to follow a specific model," he
said. He has also said that the Left would have to
strive for a "workable alternative."
CPI(M) unimpressed with PM's social charter
New Delh: The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's advise
to corporates to fulfil their social responsibilities
has not impressed the CPI(M), which has asked him to
drop the liberalisation agenda altogether rather than
making such "pious" and "meaningless" appeals.
Noting that asking capitalism to cease exploitation
was like "asking for the moon", it said what was
required is a "change of course" in the focus of the
economic policies from being "solely preoccupied with
corporate profits" towards improving people's
"Such pious declarations and appeals to a change of
heart cannot and will not meaningfully alter the
situation which the prime minister himself described
as progress (having benefited) India and not Bharat,"
an editorial in party organ People's Democracy said.
Though the prime minister's advise seeking a
partnership with industry to achieve a more equitable
and inclusive growth cannot be faulted, all appeals to
a change of heart is not only "meaningless but is
empty rhetoric" as exploitation under capitalism is
inherant, it said.
"Liberalisation with a human face, however, desirable
it may be, can never be achieved as these two simply
do not go together. If the objective is to improve the
human livelihood, then liberalisation agenda needs
necessarily to be abandoned," the editorial said.
Observing that all expressions of concern at the
vulgarity of conspicuous consumption may be
well-intentioned, the party sought to know the reason
for the growing divide and glaring disparities between
the "shining India" and the "suffering India".
If the PM's declared objectives are to be realised,
then "what is required is a change of course in
economic policies; the abandonment of the neo-liberal
policy framework and a shift in the focus of economic
policies from being solely preoccupied with corporate
profits towards improving people's welfare," the
The editorial, however, said there was no need to
grudge the success of India's billionaires, whose
combined worth of USD 191 billion is equal to
one-fourth of the country's GDP, but reminded that
there was a need to look at the other end of the
Claiming that the government spending in social sector
has decreased, it pointed out the neglect of public
health, rising malnutrition among children and adults,
prevalence of child labour and illiteracy and growing
unemployment as examples of the hiatus between shining
and suffering India.
"Inclusive growth means the continuous economic
empowerment of our people. This, in turn, means much
larger expenditures and public investment in the
social sector. This is what was promised in UPA's
Common Minimum Programme.
"However, the total expenditure on the social sector
as a percentage of GDP declined from 28.26 in 2001-02
to 27.19 per cent in 2006-07," it added.
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Tension grips Barakar following BCCL eviction notice
Express News Service
Kolkata, June 1: Tension and uncertainty prevailed in
the Barakar area after the visit of BCCL officials
early in the morning and a notice of eviction for the
residents of the adjacent area was circulated there
again. Burdwan district administration officials said
that earlier a notice for eviction was issued in April
by the BCCL. Uday Sarkar, sabhadhipati of Burdwan
zilla parisad, said that he was not yet informed on
the development on Barakar coal field area. He asked
the administration to look into the matter.
Rumours were doing the rounds in the Barakar coalfield
area that thousands of people would have to leave
within a short period. Alokesh Roy, SDO, Asansol said
that during the day he received several phone calls on
The BCCL had taken the initiative to evict the
residents from the Barakar coalfield area which had
been sinking owing to illegal mining being undertaken
there for a long time. The authorities had failed to
check illegal mining resulting in recurrence of
incidents of subsidence in the area in the past one
year. The BCCL authorities, therefore, decided that
for the safety of the locals the area needs to be
evacuated. But locals were reluctant to move out
without proper compensation and a rehabilitation
Gopinath Nigam, ADM Asansol, said that he tried to
contact the BCCL chairman at Dhanbad for discussion.
But he could not be contacted. He said that the
district administration asked the BCCL authorities to
discuss with the state government the rehabilitation
and compensation package for the residents. It is an
enormous task to relocate thousands of people from
Barakar to some other place. If the authorities take
the step to evict the residents from the area the
district administration would have to be involved. But
the BCCL authorities did neither contact the state
government nor the district administration during the
past one year regarding the rehabilitation package for
the people residing in the area.
SEZ are here to stay, says Kamal Nath
From our ANI Correspondent
Mumbai, May 29: Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath
today said the Centre was reviewing land buy policy
for low-tax Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in view of
Nath, however, said the policy per se will remain, but
there would be no compulsory acquisition of lands for
"The Central Government has one clear thing on SEZs,
that they are here to stay. There would be no
compulsory land acquisition," Nath told reporters on
the sidelines of an India-Gulf Cooperation Council
The government has faced protests from farmers and
landowners over its plans to acquire land to develop
hundreds of SEZs - large, tax-free industrial enclaves
- around the country to boost exports and economic
In West Bengal, 14 people were killed and more than
100 injured in March in protests against a proposed
chemical hub in Nandigram.
On rupee's appreciation, Nath said it was a matter of
concern, as it could spell doom for exporters and
manufacturers as well.
"This is rational phenomenon that is happening and the
government is aware of it and government is seized
with the problem, that is all I can say," said Nath.
The partially convertible rupee has risen more than 9
percent this year on robust capital flows into Asia's
Citu backs CMs chemical hub plan
Calcutta, May 29: Citu today pledged support for
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjees dream project, the chemical
hub, and dubbed those opposing it on the ground of
displacement of villagers anti-development.
(Social activist) Medha (Patkar) and others who run
foreign-funded NGOs are opposed to development. We are
also concerned about farmers and environment. But we
want industry for the creation of jobs. Chemical
industry has good prospects in Bengal and the hub is a
new concept. The state must develop it, Citu
president M.K. Pandhe said today.
Despite the setback in Nandigram, where the hub was
originally planned, the chief minister is firm on
setting it up close to the neighbouring Haldia port
and has sought a political consensus on the project
through an all-party meeting.
Pandhe said the state government is open to
discussions on all aspects.
Mamata Banerjee has opposed the project, which
invol-ves acquisition of farmland and displacement of
Jamait-i-Ulema Hinds Siddiqullah Chowdhury, who was
at the forefront of the Nandigram agitation, today
vowed to fight against all special economic zones,
including the chemical hub.
An outfit formed by Jamait and some Naxalite groups
will hold a convention on SEZs in the city on June 2
and June 3. Medha Patkar and author-activist
Arundhati Roy will attend it, Chowdhury said.
Citu members from other states quizzed their leaders
on Nandigram on the third day of the unions general
council meeting at Salt Lake Stadium.
The CPMs West Midnapore secretary, Dipak Sarkar, who
has been in charge of East Midnapore since the
violence, tried to explain to the comrades what went
wrong in Nandigram.
The questions he had to answer ranged from those on
land acquisition and farmers compensation to the
alleged police excesses, a state Citu leader said.
New Citu general secretary Mohammad Amin said in a
report on the political fallout of Nandigram that
though the chief minister admitted that the firing
was a mistake and ought to have been avoided, it was
not against peaceful villagers, as the case is made
out to be.
Amin supported the right of employees in information
technology to organise unions and resort to strikes
and said Citu will not chart a different course in
Bengal Citu leaders said they were fighting for
infotech employees rights, such as minimum wages and
provident funds, and pressuring their employers to
abide by labour laws.
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Why No Land for
Modern Days Temples?
By: SOROOR AHMED
Industries are our modern days temples. This was the
philosophy enunciated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The
first Prime Minister of the country has the credit to
lay the foundation of the first-phase of
industrialisation of the country, especially during
the Second Five Year Plan. Nehru used the religious
diction to introduce modern industries in the country
as he was aware of the ground reality. Not only the
people of the country are religious-minded the Father
of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, used religious
connotation to counter the British 'industrial
imperialism'. Thus to remove the misgivings about the
post-independence industrialisation Nehru equated
industries with temples. As the people do not hesitate
in donating money and land for the construction of
temples he called upon them to show the similar zeal
towards setting up industries. By doing so they got
job as well as money as compensation for land acquired
for this purpose.
It is not that there were no industries in India
before independence. There were some industries on the
western coast of India, viz. West Maharashtra and
Gujarat. Larsen and Toubro, Unilever (later Hindustan
Lever), Wimco and many more were in existence decades
before independence. Mumbai, Kanpur, Ahmedabad,
Kolkata, Surat, etc. emerged as textile and jute mills
A British industrialist Josiah Marshall Heath tried to
set up an iron and steel plant in 1830s but he failed
in his attempt. And in 1875 a small steel factory came
up in Barakar in Bengal.
Jamshedji Tata did try to come up with a steel plant
in 1880s but failed in his attempt because of the
non-cooperation of the British rulers. However, when
in the earlier years of the 20th century he got the
support of the then Viceroy Curzon a steel plant came
up in Jamshedpur. The Viceroy even offered to get
built a 45-mile long rail track from the mines to the
Curzon took this step because by the end of the 19th
century Belgium and then subsequently Germany became
the largest suppliers of iron and steel to India
though till 1880s the United Kingdom used to
monopolise it. As rail and road construction was at
its peak in British India iron was much in demand. The
British were developing this infrastructure to take
away raw material from India and to sell their goods
to the interior of the country.
So when Nehru introduced industrialisation his
emphasis was more on the core sector. Thus several big
steel and heavy engineering industries came up in the
country. Most of them were in the mineral-rich region
of the country as transporting raw material was no
In all these different phases of industrialisation
land acquisition did not become as big an issue as
now. However, in the liberalisation era nobody seems
to be asking the big question as to why more and more
people are coming out against the construction of
modern day temples? That too when the people, as such,
are becoming more religious or at least ritualistic.
Why the people are facing or have faced bullets
and batons in Kalinganagar, Nandigram, Singur,
Ghaziabad, Gopalpur, etc and not parting away with
their land for the construction of industries. After
all unlike the real temple where the people do not
expect any compensation the government is prepared
to give money for the land.
Tracing the answer to this knotty question would not
be an easy task. But one thing is apparently clear: it
is a case of once bitten, twice shy. The people have
learnt the bitter lesson of industrialisation and
displacement. They have now become wise and know as to
who are the real beneficiaries of the
industrialisation. They are least interested in
accepting the government version that
industrialisation is essential for the development of
the country. The government and the entire media
machinery which is now mostly in the hands of
private sector may argue in favour of the steel
industries but in the far off nooks and corners of the
country nobody seems to be prepared to lend their ears
to this type of arguments.
There is another angle too. In 1950s and 1960s the
people showed more eagerness in giving land to the
government for building public sector industries.
Today when the same government is asking them to give
their land to the private industries or multi-national
companies they are prepared to sacrifice everything.
It is not that in the past the government move to
acquire land for public sector undertakings has not
been resisted. In some cases the people did oppose the
government too, but not as strongly as the private
It is also a fact that the construction of the
Bhakra-Nangal Dam in Punjab did not generate such a
prolong protest and opposition as in the case of big
dams over Narmada or Tehri.
Is it that the common mass has become much more aware
and do not want to be cheated again. They are now
calling the bluff. While farmers do get some
compensation the others such as landless labourers,
petty businessmen who get displaced from the area
get nothing: neither money nor job. In the past the
government had been extremely slow in rehabilitating
them. Once deprived of the economic activities many of
the displaced people either turned into criminals or
became cannon-fodder for the parties like Jan Sangh to
achieve their goal. These displaced adivasis were used
by the Sangh Parivar to trigger communal riots in the
industrial belts of the country in 1960s, 1970s and
So if the government had failed to fully satisfy the
people affected by industrialisation how can these
private industries do any good to them, that is,
Similarly, people are now aware that the big dams are
becoming counter-productive too and often cause river
water dispute among the states.
Besides, it needs to be noted that in the earlier
phase of industrialisation most of the industries came
up in the mineral rich region in the forest and
plateau region of the country. From agriculture point
of view the land may not be very fertile and even
sparsely populated. Yet there were problems of
displacement. On the other hand today the private
sectors are seeking fertile land in the densely
populated region and that too when the pressure on
land has doubled due to the
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