The decision was taken after a panel, set up to study the viability of the SEZs, observed that these tax-free havens were not “right” for
The opposition is on three main issues: displacement from prime agricultural lands, access to water resources and large-scale migration from other states. Migration, the protestors believe, will upset the state’s harmony and create law and order problems — not to mention, put pressure on available resources. The other major reason, and this is common to anti-SEZ protests across the country, is the perceived role of the State in acquiring lands on behalf of industry. The State is seen as colluding with industry in ‘grabbing’ arable land and, thus, the livelihood of people. Considering that there is no data of the employment generated by SEZs with their thrust on IT, ITeS sectors, which are not labour intensive, such fears are understandable. While the people are losing land, the industry is perceived to be in a win-win situation with the tax breaks provided
Here is the HT editorial team’s prescription:
The SEZs will only become attractive if the approach is inclusive. They will be attractive if the compensation is commensurate.
Update, Jan 03: In the comments section, Umakanth notes that the Central Government has taken issue with the Goa government's decision to scrap all SEZ projects, and suggests that this has now become a Federalism dispute, which may end up in court. As this news-item from today's issue of the Indian Express details, the Central Government seems to concede that the Goa Government does have authority to cancel pending projects, but disputes the state government's ability to cancel the three projects that have already been notified by the Centre. The article also notes the political complications involved, since Goa is currently ruled by a Congress government, and the current Chief Minister was intimately involved with the previous government's decisions to approve the SEZ projects.
Given all these factors, unless a private party that is adversely affected by the decision to scrap the SEZs takes this to court, my own view is that this is likely to be settled behind closed doors, among the powers-that-be in the state and central Congress circles. Umakanth's point is, however, valid for other SEZ projects, where the state governments involved are ruled by non-Congress parties. Observers of the Indian polity have long foretold the coming battles over our unwieldy Federal system, which was created to cater to the situation existing in India in the 1940s. Perhaps that battle will be joined over the issue of SEZs.