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'SEZ-affected people will be resettled'

PM says a new rehab policy will suitably compensate people affected by land acquisition, reports Deepak Joshi.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2007 13:03 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday that a new rehabilitation policy for those affected by land acquisition would be in place in next three months. The policy will be more progressive, humane and conducive to the long term welfare of all stakeholders, he added.

Responding to FICCI president Saroj K Poddar’s suggestion that land acquired for industrialisation and special economic zones should be done at market rates, the Prime Minister said, "There is no reason why the spread of industrialisation should be a contentious issue. Issues such as land acquisition and displacement of people and their resettlement should be transparently addressed. We will be finalising a new rehabilitation policy in three months.”

The Prime Minister’s remarks assume importance in backdrop of recent events in Singur and Nandigram, where farmers reacted violently to their land being acquired for industrial purposes.

He said the Indian industry must be sensitive to the need to empower the weaker sections of society, particularly the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities so that they can benefit processes of economic and social development. Industrial development is not a zero sum game. It can be a win-win process for all sections of society.

In a way the Prime Minister was tempering his contentious remarks made at the National Development Council meeting, where critics said he had contended that minorities, particularly the Muslims, had first right on national resources.

"If we act wisely and with the best interests of the country at heart, we can transform our economy and society. I believe we are on the threshold of a new era of knowledge-based development. The country requires long term and strategic thinking," Singh told the captains of industry at the 79th annual general meeting of FICCI.

Outlining the priorities for the forthcoming Budget, the Prime Minister called for a decisive war against poverty, ignorance and disease with an emphasis on revitalisation of agriculture, apart from a re-look at tax exemptions and keeping inflation under control. "I hope the supply chains being built reach out directly to the farmers, ensuring more remunerative prices. The integrated food law has been passed by Parliament and will be operationalising this in the next few months," he said.

Concerned over the "irrational exuberance" at the stock exchanges, he indicated that the government’s priority was to ensure stability of the booming capital markets. Referring to the need to promote growth with equity, he said, “Our tax regime should be liberal but equitable... In the long run our tax regime should not have too many... Exemptions which make tax administration an unnecessarily complex exercise vulnerable to misuse,.”

Singh said the country would now move toward a common General Sales Tax and better harmonisation of Value Added Tax. As India gradually integrates into the global financial system, the government would move into a less restrictive foreign exchange regime. "The recommendations of Tarapore Committee are a step in this direction, mixing caution with optimism,” he stated.

The Prime Minister lauded the turnaround and revitalization of Indian Railways as a classic example of what good governance with a focus can achieve in a short period of time. However, he said there was a need to clear up the act in the power sector.

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First Published: Jan 08, 2007 09:15 IST