SEZ Virodhi Manch warns of agitation if SEZs are not frozen

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Panaji, Nov 12 (UNI) The apolitical SEZ Virodhi Manch, a conglomeration of different non-governmental organisations, today warned of a state-wide agitation if the Goa Government failed to freeze all Special Economic Zones by November 17.

Terming the SEZs as anti-Goan, aimed at benefitting the people from outside, the Manch reiterated its demand for instituting a CBI inquiry into ''fraudulent land allotments'' made by the Goa Industries Development Corporation to different industries under Phase IV of the Verna Industrial Estate to SEZ developers recently.

Interacting with mediapersons here today, members of the Manch said Goa required a special study to find out locations of pollution free industries that could provide employment to Goans, not outsiders.

The Manch leaders had submitted a memorandum yesterday to Chief Minister Digambar Kamat in support of their demands. They also expressed serious concern over the issue of gazette notification on October 16 allocating huge lands for industries even as the process of drafting the Regional Plan-2021 had just begun.

The proposed 18 SEZs, they said, would not only put pressure on already constrained resources such as water, electricity and land, but invite at least 10 lakh migrants adding to the 14 lakh population with attendant evils.

Mr Arvind Bhatikar, Convenor of the Jagrut Goem, said Goa had about one lakh registered unemployed, 16 per cent of them with 10th class or below standard educational qualifications. The main problems in Goa were underemployment and lower wages which needed correction, he said.

Revival of agriculture, opening of call centres and expansion of the tourism industry could generate tremendous employment potential for Goan youth whereas the SEZs would do ''more harm than good'' to Goa and its identity, he added.

Fr Mavrick Fernandes of Council for Social Justice and Peace said the Government had failed to implement 80 per cent job reservation to Goans in industries. Opening of SEZs was not the solution to the unemployment problem as claimed by the Government.

The SEZs, he said, would be a law unto themselves with no control by the local bodies and the state government. He also deplored the speed at which certain SEZs started digging bore wells and raising infrastructure without approvals.

Representatives of Goa Abhiyan Manch, which successfully raised its voice against the controversial Regional Plan-2011, besides those from Keri, Verna, Sancole, Loutilim, Pernem and Quittol, also expressed their concern.

''It is surprising that the Government that brands itself as an 'aam aadmi' government, remains inexplicably unresponsive to the peoples will which has been unambiguously expressed through resolutions against SEZs in gramsabhas where SEZs are slated to come up,'' they said.

The aim of successive state governments appears to be submerge the identity of the people of Goa, and sell off our precious and limited land as can be seen from the scrapped Regional Plan-2011, and now the SEZs, they opined.

UNI

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