ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Who Are the Beneficiaries?

The special economic zones policy must be reviewed.


The trajectory of India’s special economic zones (SEZs) policy showcases the struggle over the finite resource of land by competing sectors and the state’s bias towards industry and corporate interests. In just two years after the SEZ Act of 2005 came into effect, its implementation has been marred by allegations of coercion towards landowners, mostly farmers, to part with their land and irregularities by the SEZ promoters. On 9 January, in response to a plea seeking return of unused land acquired for setting up SEZs to farmers, the Supreme Court issued notices to seven states and the union Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The petition states that 80% of the 4,842.38 hectares of land acquired in the last five years is lying unutilised according to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report of 2012–13.

The social costs of the SEZ policy have been almost as high if not greater than the economic costs. However, data on both these aspects has not been efficiently collated and studied. In fact, the petition has requested the Court to direct governments to undertake a comprehensive social-impact study on the farmers concerned and their dependents so as to determine the compensation due to them for taking away their livelihoods. More than 2.1 million hectares of agricultural land was transferred for non-agricultural purposes between 1990 and 2003 but there is no information on how much of it had belonged to poor and marginalised farmers, tribals and Dalits.

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Updated On : 13th Jan, 2017
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