Special economic zones should be restricted to select industries and the industries to be covered should be identified first, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the National Development Council meeting, Bhattacharjee said the policy for setting up SEZs should be reviewed. “In the first instance, industry groups to be covered under the scheme should be identified. As minimum land requirement is prescribed, there should be an upper ceiling on land as well for a particular type of SEZ,” he said. Echoing the CPI-M’s view, he said the percentage of land area to be compulsorily utilized for industries as against other use should also be carefully worked out and prescribed.
The CM also said the Centre is yet to take any concrete step towards land reform and redistribution of land to the poor. “Although it has been recognised… that the reasons behind the poverty of a person are his limited endowment of land, capital, labour and skill, no substantial commitment, except for passing reference, has been made to increasing land endowment for the poor, that is to land reforms,” he said.
He added that it was “of serious concern” that only 27 per cent of cultivating households received credit from formal sources. “To achieve the targeted 4 per cent growth in agriculture during the 11th Plan, we must assure the Kissan Credit Card facility is extended to every agricultural household with adequate disbursement of credit.”
Bhattacharjee also advocated a “sub-plan approach” for disadvantaged groups, especially Muslims, as previous Plans had failed to include them in the development net. Furthermore, he sought central support for socio-economic development of the Sunderban, and tackling the problems of erosion in the Ganga and Padma and drainage in the Ichamati river and early completion of the Teesta river project.