The recent hastily taken decision of approving new SEZs by empowered group of ministers (eGoM) can affect the farmers and laborers to a large extent.
THOUGH IN WAKE of the violent protests happened in the different parts of India
over the forcible acquisition of land by states, especially in Nandigram and Rajgarh, the government has made certain changes in the terms and conditions for land acquisition; but instead of ensuring security and justice to farmers and labourers, the states are using newly invented formula for the benefits of corporate builders only.
The new terms include— fixing a cap on the land size to be acquired ie one can acquire maximum 5,000 hectares of land; keeping only 50 per cent of the total land reserved for the approved industrial project, land to be purchased directly from farmers by private developers and providing employment to at least one of the members of displaced family.
But we don’t have only the issue of how much land is to be transferred through the SEZs. The unjust transfer and accumulation of resources by one class that is the capitalist corporate is also a major concern for us. Agriculture and the agriculturists would be ruined if such process has not been halted.
The claim by the Ministry of Commerce and respective state governments regarding no disputes and conflicts over land acquisition process in the already notified and approved SEZs is a blatant lie.
The Kakinada SEZ in Andhra Pradesh, the freeze on which has been lifted recently, is a testimony to this fact, but is being concealed. Though the developer acquired just 3,000 acres out of the total 10,000 acres of land, it dislocated around one lakh people. 50,000 fishermen and farmers, which would get affected because of the proposed SEZ, are still struggling hard against the decision. On similar lines Mundra SEZ of Kutch, is also under debate and local residents have started raising their voice against it.
However, the government has put a cap of 5,000 hectares on the land size to be acquired, but this is also not a small portion as it can cause the displacement of up to 15,000 families.
The second major thing is the SEZ Act. Though in the new formula government has talked about giving employment to the members of displaced families, but in the act nothing is mentioned about rehabilitation and resettlement.
The implementation of SEZ Act can further widen the disparity between agriculture and industry. The loss of 2 to 4 lakh crores (the exact estimate of concessions in taxes, duties, levy etc is not available!) to the state exchequer, due to the approved and notified SEZ is only acknowledged, ignoring the other incumbent losses.
So, ’Special Justice Zones’ need to be dissolved where farming and farm related industries are developing.