SEZs turning into land scam

Economic Times, May 04, 2007

By Rahul Bajaj

In a zest to secure tax holidays, developers are gradually turning Special Economic Zones (SEZs) into a land scam, leading industrialist Rahul Bajaj has said.

Today, big industrial houses acquiring land for SEZs are ‘almost turning it into a scam in the name of development’, Bajaj Auto Chairman and Rajya Sabha member Rahul Bajaj said at a seminar organised by Consumer Unity and Trust Society on Thursday.

Advocating direct interaction with the farmers, he said, if vast stretches of land have to be acquired to set up SEZs the companies must get them by paying the right value, and not the subsidised rates.

He also said it would not be fair to compare the SEZs in India with that of China, as in case of the latter the land is owned by the state and the benefits go directly to the people. But, in this case it is the developer who is benefiting the most.

Bajaj said development of an industrial area does not mean it has to be near an existing city. It would be of more significance if the infrastructure creation takes place at a distance providing an opportunity to promote auxiliary settlement, he added.

Echoing his thought, Independent Rajya Sabha member P C Alexender said, currently, SEZs are defying the initial social objective of providing small and medium entrepreneurs a growth opportunity.

Supporting the SEZ Policy of the government, Rajya Sabha member and Founder of Farmers’ Union Shetkari Sangathan Sharad Joshi said farmers, who are unable to repay their debts, are willing to give up agriculture in return of a better life that an SEZ promises.

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