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M'rashtra Govt for farmer talks in SEZ case

Industries minister Ashok Chavan said the Govt is initiating dialogue with the farmers, reports Pradip Kumar Maitra.

india Updated: Dec 14, 2006 23:21 IST

The government would initiate dialogue with the farmers on “case by case” basis to acquire land for the ambitious Maha Mumbai Special Economic Zone (SEZ), informed the Maharashtra Industries minister Ashok Chavan in the Assembly in Nagpur on Thursday.

Peasants from the Konkan region are up in arms against the proposed SEZ project in which around 20,000 acres of good cultivated paddy land from their villages is to be handed over to the Reliance Industries.

The minister assured the House that the government would invite affected farmers for dialogues. After listening their grievances and subsequently satisfying them, their land would be acquired.

The proposed Maha Mumbai SEZ is expected to provide a direct employment of over 10,000 people, along with an investment of Rs 1,00,000-crore investment.

Replying to a calling attention motion, initiated by Sachin Ahir (NCP) and others, Chavan made it clear that the government would only acquire barren, wasteland and those land which give just one time crop.

He said that as many as 70 SEZ units would be developed in all over the state. Of them, 31 units would be set up in Konkan region alone.

The members of treasury and opposition benches cutting across the party lines accused the government for trying to deprive farmers by acquiring their fertile agricultural land at nominal price on the name of SEZ.

“This is a systematic conspiracy to make the farmers landless,” alleged Wamanrao Chatap of Swatantra Bharat Party.

He pointed out that despite a provision to provide 80 per cent employment to locals and project-affected people, industrialists always violate the norms. He insisted that farmers whose lands are being acquired for the project should be accommodated as shareholders in such project.

Members were also pointing out the fact that the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had expressed her reservation in such projects.

The minister, however, defended the SEZ project and said that it was essential for the growth of the state. “If we fail to provide require land to investors in our state, they would go to other states where such facilities are available, along with attractive incentives,” he added.

The government has also decided to provide customized package for investors to set up of mega project in such areas. The state government has set up a committee, headed by the chief secretary to make suggestions of incentive that can attract mega projects in the area. “We will be more flexible to attract investors in the state,” he further asserted.

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First Published: Dec 14, 2006 23:21 IST