SEZ Act not justified, says eco activist

New Delhi, Nov 5 (IANS) The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act of 2005 has no justification, as developed countries such as the US and Japan achieved growth without resorting to the growth of SEZs, environmental campaigner Vandana Shiva said here Monday.

“There is no justification for the SEZ Act. Western European countries, the US, Japan and many other developing countries achieved growth without such a draconian, thoughtless and pro-corporate-capital legislation,” Shiva said.

Support TwoCircles

“In China, which is considered to have unleashed growth, land is not transferred to corporates. It continues to vest in the state and the total number of such SEZs is only six,” she pointed out.

Shiva was addressing a gathering of hundreds of farmers who gathered at the India Gate lawns in the heart of the capital Monday to protest acquisition of land by force.

“The SEZ Act is anti-peasantry, anti-rural poor, anti-labour and anti- environment. It will also be a huge drain on the public exchequer,” Shiva said, adding that India has reached its current state of economic growth without help from SEZs.

She also said the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 should be amended in such a way that it ensures no land is acquired by the government for private companies.

“It should serve a public purpose, which should be defined to mean those purposes by which government will bring into effect the directive principles of state policy under the constitution,” said Shiva.

On the recent national rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) policy announced by the government, Shiva stated: “The R&R policy should not become an underhand way to keep the outmoded act of Land Acquisition Act of 1894 alive and give the SEZ new lease of life through the assurance that 70 percent of the total land required will have to be purchased by the company and 30 percent can be forcibly acquired for private projects by the government.”

According to the R&R Policy, farmers can be made stakeholders in the company that comes up in their land if the company is listed on the bourses. On this Shiva said: “We do not want the fate of the farmers to depend on unstable markets but on stable lands.”

“The illegal buying of agricultural land in India by foreign investors must be banned immediately. The government should issue a white paper on the land grab by foreign investors,” she demanded.