New Delhi, Apr 29 (UNI) The Government policy on Special Economic Zones (SEZ) today came under scathing attack in the Rajya Sabha by senior BJP member Ravi Shankar Prasad who described the whole business as nothing but a land grabbing scandal by real estate developers.
He demanded a stop to the reckless manner in which SEZ were being allowed to be set up.
Initiating a discussion on the working of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Mr Prasad demanded that the government explain why it had extended the incentives to the non-processing area of SEZ which, he said, was being used to construct malls and hotels by real estate developers.
Expressing surprise over the ''Government's SEZ establishing spree'', he said at present, 439 SEZ involving 60168 hectares of land had been approved and out of that 201 notified, while in the entire world there were only 393 such zones, and in China there were only six mega SEZ.
He also sought to underline that the total land area on which SEZ were coming up in the country included 40168 hectares of private land.
The maximum limit for SEZ has been fixed at 5000 hectares with 50 per cent now earmarked for non-processing area, he said and wondered why that much land was needed by some industries like gems and jewellery which could well establish their infrastructure in just 25 to 30 hectares.
''These are very disturbing questions which the Minister should answer,'' he said.
Mr Prasad said the SEZ developers were explaining that the non-processing area was needed for social infrastructure, but what they meant by that was malls, hotels, and tourist resorts instead of canteens for workers or schools for children.
''That is the reason the real estate developers were making a beeline for setting up SEZ, whereas they have no experience of manufacturing for exports, and just want to grab land for their business,'' said Mr Prasad.
The BJP leader demanded that farmers whose land was being taken for SEZ should be compensated adequately.
He also wanted that the incentives for the IT industry should be extended for another ten years.
Quoting the FICCI report, he said there was a decline in exports and 40 lakh skilled workers were losing their jobs.
He also criticised the government move to allow FDI in retail, saying it would have disastrous consequences for small shopkeepers.
Participating in the discussion, Mr Subbirami Reddy of the Congress said the industry was making satisfactory progress and exports were growing, despite the fact that the price of steel had gone up which affected all sectors.
Mr Reddy sought to correct Mr Prasad on FDI in retail, saying the government had not allowed it.
MORE UNI NAZ RR BD1625