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Dhoot opposes 'land grabbing' in the name of SEZs
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January 16, 2007 13:36 IST
Newly-elected president of industry body Assocham and Videocon chief Venugopal Dhoot on Tuesday said he was against "land grabbing" in the name of SEZs and the chamber would take farmers on board while pursuing industrialisation.

"Assocham is against land grabbing. We are for farmers and when we undertake industrialisation we would like to convince them that it is for their benefit," Dhoot told PTI in his first interview before assuming office.

With controversies surrounding land acquisition for SEZs and other industrial projects in many parts of the country, Dhoot reiterated there was "no sense in making SEZs by compromising the interest of farmers".

His comments come in the backdrop of protests against Indonesia's Salim Group's Special Economic Zone at Nandigram in West Bengal, Tata Motors' car project at Singur and against SEZs in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra among others.

On the issue of rehabilitation policy proposed by the Prime Minister, he said the chamber would support it.

Asked if Assocham was ready to speak to politicians who were agitating against acquisition of farm land for industrial purpose, Dhoot said: "As a chamber we do not believe in talking to individuals. If any issue has to be taken up then we will speak to governments, including chief ministers."

Dhoot, whose group has been active in global takeovers, said government should provide support and incentives to parent Indian companies that are investing overseas.

"If the Tatas succeed in acquiring Corus, they should be given tax benefits here proportionate to their investment abroad," he said, adding this would not violate any WTO norms. 

Commenting on the contentious issue of job reservation in the private sector, Dhoot said the chamber was against any forcible quotas but was already working on affirmative action and ready to take it up in a phased manner.

"We have asked the government not to force any laws upon us and see our action for a year," he said, adding, the chamber would ask its members to highlight their affirmative action on balance sheets.

He said forcible job reservations in private sector could have an impact on 'brand India', which has been picking up globally.

Dhoot also said the threshold for number of employees in a company for job reservation should be raised to 400 from the current proposed 50, and gradually brought it down to 300 in the first year and 200 in the third.

He said Finance Minister P Chidambaram's recent remarks to industry against inducing production-driven inflation were friendly in nature and could not be interpreted as "micro-managing" the economy.

Chidambaram's advice to industry had come in for criticism from another apex chamber, which had said that the finance ministry was micro-managing the economy.

The new Assocham chief said the current liquidity crisis was only temporary and hoped the RBI would relax the tight norms governing monetary policy once prices start coming down.
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