New Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Tuesday demanded an amendment to the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act and Rules to bring in a cap on the land allotment for such projects and also a regulation of the land usage.
'Urgent changes are required in the SEZ Act and Rules,' CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters after a three-day meeting of the central committee, apex decision-making body of the party.
The CPI-M, which along with three other Left parties supports Prime Minister Manmohan Singh government from outside, has been opposing the allotment of agricultural land for the SEZs.
At the Congress chief ministers' conclave in Nainital last week, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had also expressed her concern over acquisition of prime agricultural land to set up SEZs.
'There has to be a cap on the amount of land to be allotted. Secondly, the stipulation of land to be used in an SEZ for industry (purposes) must be increased to at least 50 percent and 25 percent for related infrastructure,' Karat said, pointing out that currently only 25 percent of the land are used for industrial purposes.
The party also demanded that the tax exemption proposals for the SEZs must be reviewed and tax breaks must be drastically pruned.
'There should be an adequate policy to compensate and rehabilitate the displaced people and the farmers and agricultural workers.'
Karat said the SEZs should be set up only with the approval of the respective state government.
'The allotment of land to the promoter companies lead to a large-scale displacement of farmers, meagre compensation and no alternative means of livelihood, while the promoters are getting land cheaply and they are going to make their fortunes out of real estate development and speculation.'
The Communist leader pointed out that the indiscriminate approvals for SEZs would affect agriculture, food security, interests of farmers and the economic sovereignty.
'We want the government to discuss the matter in the next session of parliament,' Karat said.
Welcoming United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Gandhi's remarks, Karat said: 'The party politburo will prepare a comprehensive stand on the issue and mobilise support from other political parties for amendments and changes in the act.'