Don't sell fertile land for SEZ: Dr Kalam

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New Delhi, Dec 11: Farmers have been called upon by former President A P J Abdul Kalam ''not to sell'' their fertile land for Special Economic Zones or ''other economic activity.'' The call was given by Dr Kalam at a Human Rights Day meeting last night after asking the nation to care for its poor and its farmers on the ''suicidal path''. ''Nowadays we have been witnessing the turbulent situation in the country, emerging out of SEZ and farmers land acquisition issues leading to human rights violation when the affected farmers raise their voice,'' he said.

''Farmers and the small land holders are becoming orphans in our own land. Let me now address this issue through this human rights conference.'' Noting India's nine per cent growth rate as ''we are progressing towards knowledge society,''

Dr Kalam said, ''we have to face the problem of farmers committing suicide in certain parts of the country.'' Dr Kalam lectured an audience of judges, lawyers and Human Rights activists after a word of welcome by former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, who said the one thing universal about human rights was their violation.''

Mr Sorabjee spoke how billionaires and trillionaires revelled in luxury while poverty and hunger violated the human rights of the masses.

Dr Kalam warned against a failure to stop farmers' suicides.''Inability to wean away the farmers from the suicidal path is really a serious human rights challenge. Through this human rights conference, I would like to give a call to the farmers of our nation: Not to sell their fertile land for any Secured Economic Zones or any other economic activity,'' he maintained.

''I do not want to see any farmer landless. I know what it means. I come from a farming family. Thereby I propose a viable solution to this issue. '' he said.

''SEZ is an economic proposition leading to number of projects for economic growth and employment generation. Government/Industry instead of acquiring the fertile land from the farmers in government rate may make the famers as their partners in the SEZ projects and give them equity share holding with reference to the overall project cost, according to their land ownership in the market value of today,'' Dr Kalam added.

''Farmers who are partners in the SEZ and their children can be trained in value addition tasks connected with SEZ projects.'' He cited an example of how cotton growers in Punjab increased their output through quality seeds, quality fertilisers and quality pesticides from cooperative societies and suggested replicating such successes.

''The injustice that we have to fight today... is the societal and economic inequality in various aspects of life for certain percentage of our population,'' Dr Kalam said.

The meeting was also addressed by Supreme Court Judges Altamas Kabir and S H Kapadia. Justice Kabir spoke of the irony of kids in rags at road intersections tapping on car windows hoping to sell toys and balloons to occupants-- often kids their own age.

He said it reflected a failure to provide minimum amount of social security-- education, health and nutritional care. Justice Kapadia criticised the enormous waste by Union and State governments of public resources intended to aid the poor.

UNI

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