THE SPECIAL Economic Zones (SEZs) controversy has reached the Supreme Court. On Monday, a court bench issued notices to the central government and the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana, on a public interest petition challenging the setting up of SEZs in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Justices K.G. Balakrishnan and D.K. Jain also sent notices to the Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation and Reliance Ventures Limited. The petition will affect 56 SEZs being set up in the NCR.
The petition comes in the middle of a raging political debate on the UPA government’s SEZ policy — a matter that also figured at the Congress’s Nainital session three months ago. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had said it was important to ensure that such zones did not come up on prime agricultural land, and farmers were paid adequate compensation.
The petition, filed by Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of former chief minister Bhajan Lal and a Congress MP, is bound to embarrass the Congress government in Haryana. Bishnoi has challenged both the central SEZ Act 2005, and the Haryana SEZ Act. He has demanded that the state government be restrained from transferring about 25,000 acres of Haryana's land to Reliance Ventures.
Bishnoi’s counsel Rohington Nariman argued that the Haryana SEZ Act violated the NCR Planning Board Act 1985. Under the NCR Act, areas earmarked for agricultural use cannot be used for SEZs.