SEZs are a violation of democracy, says Medha


Addressing a gathering on “SEZs, PCPIR (Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Regions) and developments needs of India” at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, Medha said that age old Land Acquisition Act had been implemented by policy makers to grab a large portion of lush green fertile land from the population.

Aruna Roy from the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, talked about the deals to create SEZs in Mangalore and Tamil Nadu. “At the public audit in Mangalore, people said that they never heard of the Land Acquisition Act and that their land was taken away from them forcibly. In Tamil Nadu, revenue records were fudged by declaring wet lands into dry lands to create SEZs,” she said.

 She added that such zones would only lead to unemployment, which in turn would create more Maoist groups. Land mafia is on the rise, where many land dealings are made with some vested interests and no transparency is maintained.

Industrial growth

SEZs, she said, are a chip of the block of China’s efforts at industrial growth. In India, SEZs are mostly devoted to the IT and ITES sector, and are mostly constructed on cultivable farmland, often forcibly acquired from farmers.

“The SEZ Act in 2000 was passed by the same commission that passed the RTI Act. It was passed without being brought into public notice and initiating any debate,” said Aruna Roy.
“A SEZ offers tax holidays to its investors,” she added.

 “While tax holidays are given in plenty to foreign investors and corporates, it is the poor farmers whose subsidies and relief packages are withheld by the government,” said Medha Patkar. The public audit in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu by a cluster of organisations has exposed revenue records of land being fudged and people who have been forced to give up their land and occupation.                

“Ninety-six per cent of the residents of a district in Maharashtra were against an SEZ being set up in their district. What sort of a democracy is this?”, questioned Aruna Roy.

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