The Left parties on Thursday released a note on Special Economic Zones (SEZ), criticising the present form of the SEZ Act and demanding several amendments to the Act to prevent it from becoming a "speculative real estate bubble instead of building industrial infrastructure."
The parties have demanded that SEZs be built on non-agricultural land and that the acquisition of agricultural land should be discouraged. "A provision limiting the acquisition of agricultural land should be built into the SEZ Act itself," the note suggests.
The note also suggests changes in the Land Acquisition Act to prevent agricultural land from being acquired for SEZ. A 'national rehabilitation policy' for displaced farmers should also be considered on an urgent basis, the note demanded.
The note, which evolved out of consultations of the four Left parties – CPI (M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc – was submitted to the UPA on Thursday.
The Left is apprehensive about regional imbalances being created if "… several large SEZs developed by private entities are allowed to come up in a few states, while many states do not receive any proposal from private developers, this will aggravate regional imbalances,’’ the note mentions.
The large number of proposals for setting up IT SEZs, the note states, is an attempt to take advantage of tax concessions. It emphasised the need for separate caps for the total number of multi-product and sector specific SEZs.
The Left has opposed private parties from owning the land acquired for an SEZ. "Land is being acquired by the State and handed over to private developers. Some of the proposed SEZs involve huge tracts of land, over 10000 hectares in some cases. If private entities are allowed to own such huge tracts of land, it would amount to the reestablishment of the zamindari system sixty years are independence. This is totally unacceptable," the note states.
The four parties have suggested that private developers should only be allowed to take land on lease. "The Central Government should set an appropriate ceiling on the total land area under a SEZ, which can be developed by a private entity."
On the issue of land being demarcated for industrial, the parties have suggested that at least 50 per cent should be dedicated to processing. "Further, 25 per cent, of the non-processing area should be dedicated for infrastructure development. Building of residential and commercial complexes should be permitted over 25 per cent of the total land area. The SEZ Rules should be suitably amended in this regard," the note states.