Avoid use of agricultural land for SEZs: Moily panel


New Delhi : The present approach of allowing use of prime agricultural land for establishing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) should be avoided, Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) chairperson M. Veerappa Moily said Monday.

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“In establishing SEZs, use of prime agricultural land should be avoided. There is a need to amend the present approach to SEZs in this regard,” Moily told reporters.

He also suggested that the number of SEZs should be limited and preference should be given to backward areas for establishing the zones so they act as a hub for economic growth of the region.

Moily said that SEZs promoted by farmers should be encouraged and the livelihood of the displaced people should be a major concern of the SEZ policy.

The ARC report titled “Capacity Building For Conflict Resolution: Friction To Fusion,” a copy of which Moily gave to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier, deals with a slew of measures in an attempt to suggest “a framework to strengthen the administrative machinery to maintain public order conducive to social harmony.”

Other ARC recommendations include imposing on states the responsibility of rehabilitation of those uprooted, including provision for water, sanitation, health facilities and vocational training centres for entrepreneurs.

The ARC has also suggested that the proportion of land permitted for use by the promoters of SEZs for non-processing activities should be kept to a minimum so that more land is put to productive use. Environmental regulations should be ensured too.

The SEZ policy of the union government has led to protests across the country, especially in Nandigram (West Bengal), Dadri (Uttar Pradesh) and in states like Goa and Kerala.