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Home > News > Report

Can't use agricultural land for setting up SEZs

Sharat Pradhan in Nainital | September 23, 2006 19:40 IST

Hinting that agricultural land might not be used for setting up Special Economic Zones in the country, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday told chief ministers of the 14 Congress-ruled states that they must desist from allowing diversion of prime agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.

"The industry requires land, no doubt, but this must be done without jeopardising our agriculture prospects," she said, opening the two-day conclave in Nainital.

Her reference to this issue was understood to have been prompted by the current farmers' agitation against the transfer of 3000 acres of expensive agricultural land by the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh government to the Anil Ambani business group for a proposed gas-based power plant at Dadri, close to the UP-Delhi border.

"Farmers must get proper compensation when their land is purchased," she said, while suggesting, "Could farmers also not become stake-holders in the projects that come up on the land acquired from them?"

She stressed on the need to strengthen the rehabilitation policies in an effective and credible manner that will inspire confidence in the displaced people.

She also called for a complete overhaul of the entire land administration system. "I remember Rajivji (the late Rajiv Gandhi) laid great stress on this and he did begin the computerisation of land records," she said.

She added, "Conclusive land titles need to be guaranteed. The needs of the landless poor require a distinct focus."

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