AMARAVATI: With about 2500 acres under encroachment, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has directed Guntur and Prakasam district collectors to safeguard the land parcels belonging to Vadarevu and Nizampatnam Port and Industrial Corridor (Vanpic) attached by the Central agency in the two districts.
The ED asked the collectors to take immediate action to protect the land following complaints on encroachment. According to sources, the collectors during regular inspection in the last two days have found that vast tracts of Vanpic land have been turned into fish ponds. The collectors directed tehsildars to issue notices of eviction to the farmers, who encroached the land.
According to revenue officials, over 2,500 acres of land in Guntur district have been converted into fish ponds.
We are issuing notices to farmers who are cultivating land under ED attachment, asking them to bulldoze the fish tanks and take away their valuables. We might initiate criminal proceedings in case they did not vacate the land on their own,” said Guntur district collector Samuel Anand Kumar.
The collector has asked the farmers to empty their fish tanks within a week to avoid police action. The collector warned field officials of disciplinary action if they did not keep a tab on public properties.
The ED had attached 13,000 acres in Guntur and Prakasam districts after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) booked cases of corruption. The state government had acquired around 4,000 acres and handed it over to Vanpic.
The firm bought 10,000 acres along the coast for the ports-industrial corridor project under the impression that entire acquisition is being done by the government. The Vanpic project was proposed by the state government in 2008 when YS Rajasekhara Reddy was the chief minister.
The state government had signed an MoU with the government of Ras Al Khaima, UAE, to take up the project. The project did not take off following the sudden demise of YS Rajasekhara Reddy in 2009 and the subsequent CBI cases against Nimmagadda Prasad, the chief proponent of the Vanpic project.
Subsequently, the Kiran Kumar Reddy government cancelled the deal stating that the MoU was not cleared by the Union ministry for External Affairs. Although the TDP government had made an attempt to reclaim the land acquired for the Vanpic project in order to distribute them to the farmers, who sold it under pressure, the prolonged legal battle delayed the process.
Some local farmers reclaimed the land and started aquaculture. With most of the land located along the coast and without any boundary, it has become a Herculean task for the officials to protect the land.