Lalu disfavrs forcible occupation of land for SEZs

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New Delhi, Oct 30 (UNI) Railway Minister Lalu Prasad today voiced his strong opposition to the forcible occupation of farmers' land for the purpose of setting of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), saying the government would, in fact, do better ''to keep out of it.'' ''I am not opposed to the setting up of SEZs, but farmers should not be coerced into parting with their lands,'' Mr Prasad said, while inaugurating the Annual Day function of The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) here.

He, however, said if a farmer was willing to sell his land for the creation of a SEZ, he should be allowed to do so after providing him a judicious compensation amount.

In this connection, he cited the case of Haryana, where farmers willingly sold their land to the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Group.

''But I disapprove of what is happening in Nandigram in West Bengal, which is forcing Trinamool Congress chief Mamta Banerjee to take to the streets on behalf of the dispossessed farmers,'' he said.

The function was attended by, among others, Corporate Affairs Minister Premchand Gupta.

Mr Prasad, who had addressed a mammoth ''chetavani (warning) rally at Patna yesterday, also talked about the social responsibility of both the government and corporate houses to ''bridge the chasm between the haves and the have-nots'' if the country is to realise its high growth rate with an equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.


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