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Seek people’s opinion on SEZs

Posted by Ramoo on April 2, 2007

Special Correspondent

Repeal Act, `Action 2007′ team urges Pranab

  • Call for national policy on just rehabilitation of the displaced
  • No gram sabha consultation before land acquisition: says Medha Patkar

    NEW DELHI: A delegation of `Action 2007′, a collective body of people’s organisations from across the country, on Saturday met Pranab Mukherjee, who heads the Empowered Group of Ministers on SEZs,and reiterated the demand for repealing the Special Economic Zone Act, 2005 and stopping all ongoing land acquisitions.

    The team demanded that a national policy on development, planning and just rehabilitation of the displaced persons be worked out. The Government must put on hold the process of approvals of notification of SEZs and initiate a dialogue with people’s groups and communities to seek their opinion whether SEZs would strengthen the development of local economies and what could be other options.

    Approvals to projects

    The delegation said issues on SEZs had been raised since September last with Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath but no attention was paid.

    Instead, “more than 200 projects have received approvals by the Commerce Ministry and 63 projects have been notified,” the delegation said in a memorandum submitted to Mr. Mukherjee.

    Focussing on the process of land acquisition and the role of the State in the Nandigram SEZ, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar submitted a report by an independent fact-finding team of eminent and concerned citizens and the recent police action in the West Bengal village.

    “What we have seen in Maharashtra and West Bengal is that no gram sabha consultation took place before initiating land acquisition for SEZ projects,” she said.

    Growing disparity

    Prof. Arun Kumar of Jawaharlal Nehru University referred to the growing disparity between agricultural and industrial growth rates.

    Some of the concerns placed before Mr. Mukherjee included the forced land acquisition, loss of local agriculture and fisheries and issues of food security with no guarantee of alternative employment.

    Social activists and representatives of NGOs from Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra narrated their concerns over SEZs in their States.

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