SEZ to be one of major planks for Opposition in Maharashtra

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai | Updated: Mar 11 2009, 03:57am hrs
Even as Maharashtra has received clearance for a record 141 special economic zones (SEZs), the ruling Congress and NCP are not keen to take the political mileage in the forthcoming general elections but trade cautiously. On the other hand, saffron BJP and Shiv Sena and Left parties propose to make their anti-SEZ stand as one of the election issues.

Congress and NCP have reiterated that the coercive tactics will not be taken to acquire land. The saffron parties have been the state government for its anti farmers policies in the implementation of SEZs.

Moreover, the Left Front has called for stay on the development of Maha Mumbai SEZ by Reliance Industries and two power projects with a total generation capacity of over 5,200 mw in the Raigad district.

A senior Congress minister, who wanted not to be quoted, told FE It is a reality that during the Congress-NCP rule the Centre has cleared a record 141 SEZs of which 43 have already been notified. These are single as well as multi product SEZs. The government cleared its position that it will be a facilitator in the land acquisition process and it wont directly involve in it. Besides, the government has taken a major decision that no fertile land will be acquired for SEZs.

Similarly, NCP sources said that its president Sharad Pawar during his chief ministership in 1977-80 had introduced a policy where project outsees will be given 12.5% land. The party has been firm on this stand and has come out in open to support the cause of PAPs.

However, Sena and BJP have decided to grill Congress and NCP on its SEZ development policy during the election campaigning. Sena has blamed the government for taking a pro-SEZ developers stand. On the other hand, BJP has alleged that SEZ policy has resulted in the land grabbing by developers body while keeping the locals in lurch.

Moreover, left parties particularly Peasants and Workers Party (PWP), CPI, CPM and other secular parties such as Janata Dal (secular) have been quite vocal on this issue.

Meanwhile PWP, which has supremacy over the coastal Raigad district, has been running an agitation against the SEZ being developed by the Reliance Industries and India Bulls. Similar protests were also organised in other parts. Left parties have decided to expose the Congress and NCP during the Lok Sabha poll campaign.