IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
Despite having burned its fingers with export processing zones, which mainly involved a number of substantial fiscal benefits, the government has gone into overdrive to push its new policy on special economic zones. The difference, this time around, is the gargantuan scale on which the project is being pitched.
Setting up these special zones entails land acquisition on a massive scale -- and, therefore, displacement on an equally massive scale. Much of the land involved is fertile, agricultural land, though the government has now said it will only acquire wasteland. This is a somewhat disingenuous policy shift, given the fact that it is extremely difficult to identify whether a piece of land is indeed waste.
Wasteland, moreover, is, par excellence, the resource on which the poorest and most marginalised depend -- and, clearly, the government is gearing up to take over large swathes of common property resource land by designating them 'wasteland'.
The scale of the special projects has united farmers who risk losing their land. And protests, some violent, have already started breaking out. The outlook for the future is grim. In their struggle against the state, the farmers have the support of sections of the political class and intelligentsia, and civil society organisations. But their most powerful ally, strange though it may sound, is the Union ministry of finance and the associated fiscal establishment, including a number of think tanks.
The finance ministry raised objections to the ambitious programme on the ground that it would lead to the loss of an unconscionably large chunk of the government's revenues. Independent observers have also pointed out that special zones may not bring in new, big-ticket investments, as hoped, but only encourage the flight of old capital to these enclaves. Moreover, they say, the special zones are in effect piggy-backing on public resources -- the taxpayer's money. But despite opposition, the special zones programme is steaming ahead.
There are other major concerns the constriction of labour rights, the disregard for established environmental procedures, and, not least, the deeply anti-democratic systems that have been devised to run these enclaves. padmaparna ghosh explores the downside of the new strategy