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Bengal govt puts SEZs on hold
March 16, 2007 18:01 IST
Last Updated: March 16, 2007 18:21 IST
West Bengal government puts on hold all special economic zones in the state until a 'socially balanced' decision is taken in this regard.
Presenting the state budget for 2007-08 in the assembly, West Bengal Finance Minister Ashim Dasgupta said there was a necessity to take steps for setting up large industries in consultation with people with a necessary balance of agriculture and payment of compensation for land acquired for projects.
With regard to SEZs, he said until a socially balanced decision was taken at the national level, the state government would not take any initiative in the matter.
The state government's move came only two days after a major flare-up of violence at Nandigram in East Midnapore district, where 14 people died after police fired on people opposed to the acquisition of their land for a proposed SEZ.
The finance minister conceded there was a need for consulting local people for setting up some large industries with special charactertistics.
The state was not facing any problem of land for small and medium industrial units and even in case of most large industries, the problem was not very serious, he said.
Only in the case of a few large industries for which large areas of land may be required because of special characteristics of the projects, it will be necessary to take steps in consultation with local people and to maintain necessary balance with agriculture and payment of appropriate compensation for acquisition of land, Dasgupta said.
In this regard, the doors were open for negotiations, he said.
The minister's statement came only two days after widespread violence at Nandigram in East Midnapore district over the acquisition of land for a SEZ proposed to be set up by Indonesia's Salim Group.
People in Nandigram, apprehensive about the acquisition of their farm land for the SEZ, launched a protest in December last year and blocked roads to prevent the entry of police in the area.
Police tried to force their way into the villages on Wednesday, sparking violent clashes.
The incident prompted the Calcutta high court to order a probe into the incident by the CBI, while the CPI-M-led state government came in for severe criticism from its Left allies and the opposition.