'SEZs pose a major threat to domestic industry'
New Delhi, Oct 25: The BJP Committee on Special Economic Zone today said the way the SEZs were being implemented they threatened the domestic industry.
The committee, which will submit its final report in the first week of next month, has apprised BJP senior leader and Leader of Opposition L K Advani of the apprehensions it harboured about the SEZs sought to be proliferated in the country at the expense of domestic industries and local farmers.
The Committee, headed by senior party leader M Venkaiah Naidu, which has interacted in depth with various social groups including the farmers and industries associations in Haryana and Punjab states which are up in arms against the government's intentions of setting up the SEZs around the country, told Mr Advani that these interactions revealed the concerns expressed about the stakeholders that SEZs allowed no level playing field for the domestic industries while taking away the fertile agricultural fields from farmers.
He said the BJP was for SEZs for promoting exports and foreign investments but the way this was being implemented it not only threatened the domestic industry eating away its market share while enjoying special privileges allowed under the SEZs where no normal laws were applicable.
''Our Committee will submit its final report to the BJP President in the first week of November, '' Mr Naidu told reporters after the meeting.
He said the SEZs were originally sought to be brought up in 1000 hectares of land but Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath had reduced its size to 25 hectares while the Group of Ministers headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Kumar Mukherjee had further reduced its size to 10 hectares.
This not only introduced distortions by taking away the advantage of level playing fields to the domestic industries which had the double task of competing with the foreign industries but also SEZs with no specified trade areas enjoying special status within India vying for a share in the local market.
Some SEZs were also misusing their status to further their real estate value denying the farmers their compensation and fertile pieces of land, he added.
The Committee, he said, will make a comparative analysis of the situation prevailing in the BJP-ruled states as well as other states before arriving at the final viewpoint. The panel was appointed by BJP president Rajnath Singh during the National Executive at Dehra Dun following the uproar about the misuse of SEZs ahead of polls in politically sensitive states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.