A delegation of Congress leaders has asked the Government to cap the creation of special economic zones (SEZ), provide a job to at least one person belonging to the family of the farmer from whom the land has been acquired and set up a tripartite mechanism which includes the farmer, the promoter and a government official to decide on the price of the land to be acquired.
The delegation presented the three-point proposal when the Group of Ministers (GoM) on the SEZ issue invited the Congress and Left leaders on Wednesday to give their views on the subject.
Those present at the meeting included Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram and Kamal Nath, AICC general secretaries Digvijay Singh and Ashok Gehlot and CPM's Sitaram Yechury.
At the meeting, the CPM leader disagreed with the government's take on SEZs. "They gave us their views. We again reiterated our stand on the issue and explained why we wanted amendments to the SEZ Act," CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat told Hindustan Times.
The Left party had expressed its apprehensions on the Act in an earlier note to the government, including its fears that the tax exemptions given to SEZs would impact social welfare schemes. The CPM was also worried that with only 25 per cent of SEZ land earmarked for industrial purposes, the rest may be used for building giant commercial and residential complexes. "Far from promoting industrial development and exports, this could lead to a speculative real estate bubble," the Left note had said.
The controversy that SEZs were turning out to be a "land grabbing" operation also saw Congress president Sonia Gandhi telling the Congress chief ministers' conclave in Nainital in September that such zones should be set up on non-agricultural land and farmers should be adequately compensated and perhaps even be made stakeholders in the projects coming up on the land acquired from them.