New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) The Supreme Court was Friday moved to stop the acquisition of agricultural and cultivable land from farmers in various states for setting up special economic zones (SEZs).
In a public suit, advocate Manohar Lal Sharma urged the court to quash all the acquisitions that had already taken place with a direction that the lands should be returned to the respective farmers.
The Indian government has put in place a SEZ policy that seeks to make India a hub for global exports. It is a part of the government's economic liberalisation programme and entrepreneurs have been offered liberal tax incentives to set up world-class units in these special zones to service the international markets.
Assailing the policy, the petitioner said developers were being offered attractive incentives if the units were developed in backward areas of the country. After this, several leading industrialists including the Tatas and Reliance had started acquiring thousands of acres of agricultural land, particularly near the metropolitan cities of Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai for setting up their units.
Giving figures as to how the acquisition of land was taking place across the country, the petitioner said that conversion of agricultural land other than for cultivation purposes would create chaos and a shortage in regular food supplies and vegetables. He alleged that lands were being acquired with the help of police, and politicians were supporting such acquisitions in the name of industrial development.
He said that farmers, labourers and other citizens in the villages were being threatened directly and indirectly to give up their land and to stop cultivation. He cited the case of acquisition of 2,500 acres of land by the Uttar Pradesh government to favour the Reliance group.