Wednesday, March 21, 2007

নন্দীগ্রামের অ্যান্টিথীসিস

Nandigram has a direct opposite in Pune

KG Narendranath
Times News Network
Tuesday, Marsh 20, 2007

NEW DELHI: Killings in Nandigram, attributed to “forced land acquisition” by the state for special economic zones (SEZs), have an antithesis in Maharashtra. The state government could overcome the apprehensions among farmers over a multi-product SEZ proposed to be developed by Bharat Forge near Pune. The land for the proposed SEZ, which expects Rs 10,000 crore investment, has almost been acquired as farmers who initially opposed the project have now become its enthusiasts.

Unlike the West Bengal government which sent ripples down the spine of a section of farmers (this opened room for unfair political plays by the disingenuous Opposition) by notifying SEZ before lands were assembled, the Maharashtra government had shown more patience and pragmatism through which it could convince farmers that SEZ could only improve their living conditions.

The result: as opposed to the initial plan to acquire 1,400 hectares of land, the state ended up taking possession of 1,900 hectares for the zone. The farmers’ representatives, during discussions with the state and the developer, had suggested that a larger area of arid land be acquired for the economic project instead of a smaller area of cultivable land.

These lands were then made available by the farmers’ organisations themselves who could convince the owners to transfer their ownership rights to the state for reasonable compensation. The norm that the state followed was to settle the price with the land owners before SEZ is notified.

To win the support of the people in the area for SEZ, the state also offered them employment guarantee for a section of the population whose land changed hands. Already, scores of youth in the region are being trained in two ITIs in the region to make them employable in SEZ. With the farmers’ consent, the state is now confident of notifying SEZ in June, according to official sources.

A commerce ministry official told ET that 63 SEZs notified in the last one year already generated investment of Rs 13,435 crore and created 18,457 new jobs. As these SEZs become fully operational in the next two years, they would have attracted investment of Rs 58,000 crore and created 15 lakh new jobs. This is as against 19 SEZs which created 1 lakh jobs with an investment of Rs 3,613 crore until 2006, the official noted.

Of the 171 SEZ applicants who have land ready, cases of 52 have already been vetted by the law ministry and ready to be notified, absence of political nod being the only stumbling block. If all the 234 SEZ proposals, including those which are yet to get the land, become operational, the total investment in them would be over Rs 1.3 lakh crore with new jobs of 40 lakh in the next four years, according to the commerce ministry’s estimate.

No comments: