Thousands of farmers assembled at a national seminar in Delhi from various parts of the country described the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) being established by government all over the country as nothing but a fraud and disastrous step. They said the SEZ in present form is proving a deathbed for farmers and it would not be accepted at all. They proposed if the government really wants to establish SEZs, it should take only and honestly the barren land and not the fertile land at all. The farmers also warned that they are ready for more sacrifices against SEZ.
Addressing the packed Mavlankar Hall, noted thinker Shri Govindacharya said the present governments are nothing but actors and the people or the forces, which are directing them, are sitting somewhere else. The government that ordered firing on agitating farmers in Nandigram and Singur was elected by those people itself. It was their own government, but it killed them mercilessly. ?Fact is that all the political parties have double standards. Is it not intellectual dishonesty?? asked Shri Govindacharya.
He informed that there are only five SEZs in the whole China and they are completely controlled by the government, which has also not given them any tax relaxation. On the contrary in our country, the government has given so many tax relaxations to such companies. ?There results of making India the US will be disastrous. The ground realities of both the countries are different. The American policies cannot be implemented here at all. We need to frame polices as per the needs of our farmers and not according to America or China. India needs policies, which give employment and food to all,? he added. He appealed to the farmers, labourers and poor to recognise their enemy.
Bharatiya Janshakti Party president Uma Bharati said that the farmers are being forced to commit suicide by snatching their agricultural land in the name of SEZs. She said solution to the problem has to be found assessing our assets and problems. We are facing terrorism, naxalism, corruption, etc. The strategy of development should keep in mind the real problems of the country. We need growth and employment-oriented development. She made it clear that her party is not against development of SEZs, she wants to modify it as per Indian needs. We cannot accept relaxation in tax only for capitalists or MNCs. What will the farmers do whose land is being snatched? Do the government want them to clean the floor or beg? she asked.
Former Chief Minister of Haryana Shri Omprakash Chautala said the Finance Minister and Governor of RBI had strongly opposed the SEZ Act in present form. When the farmers started agitations, the UPA chairperson had to clarify that fertile land would not be taken for SEZs. Such practical problems were not kept in mind while preparing the SEZ Act. He pointed out that the government of Ireland has established a SEZ over 600 acre land in which 120 MNCs are working. On the other hand in our country, the government has given 25,000 acre land to only one company, Reliance, for SEZ. He said so far only the Indian companies have been given land, what will happen when the MNCs will come? Now attempts are being made to develop the situation in the country when foodgrains will be imported and our land will have only factories. He also questioned the relevance of the slogan?Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan?saying that 75 soldiers out of one lakh and 60 farmers out of one lakh commit suicide every year. He said the government has imposed a ceiling over the farmers for having more than 17 acre land, but for big corporate houses there is no ceiling as just one company is being given 25,000 acre land and that too with unlimited tax relaxations.
Bharatiya Janshakti Party leader Shri Sangh Priya Gautam said the SEZ Act was made in haste and proper discussion was not held over it. He said the SEZ is a part of the economic reform process which itself is part of the global conspiracy. He explained in detailed how the agriculture land is declining and the number of farmers is increasing in India. He said in 1960, we had 13,341 lakh hectare agriculture land which reduced to 10,765 lakh hectare by 2003. He said we today have about 14 million hectare barren land, which can be used for development purposes.
Senior journalist Shri Prem Shankar Jha proposed that the farmers whose land is being taken for SEZs should be paid royalty from the profit the companies earn every year. He said apart from paying royalty the farmers should also be advised on investment of the money as normally most of the farmers waste the money they receive as compensation from the government. He said instead of making the farmers beggars by snatching their land, they should be made a partner in development process.
Sardar Tarlochan Singh, MP and former chairman of National Commission for Minorities, asked the governments of Punjab and Haryana to show the statistics of the local persons who have been granted employment in the SEZs established in these two states. He wondered that new taxes are being imposed on farmers but the rich corporate houses like Tata, Reliance, etc. are being given more tax relaxations.