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SEZs COULD BE THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA COLONIAL RULE – EMERGENCE OF NEW CONCEPT OF ECONOMIC SLAVERY

Justifying the Special Economics Zones in Navi Mumbai and Raigad District citing examples of SEZ in China is like the devil quoting the Bible and Mukesh Ambani quoting Mao. The scenario is a world apart in the two countries. There is no land acquisition in China as all lands are owned by the government and no labour laws are violated, remarked Krishna Khopkar of the Kisan Sabha in a presence conference recently. Krishna Khopkar of the Kisan Sabha was addressing the media, flanked by legislators Vivekanand Patil and Jayant Patil and trustee of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust Bhushan Patil, at Belapur to announce the protest rally of 45,000 villagers to Konkan Bhavan on Sept 21, to demand the withdrawal of notices of land acquisition for Navi Mumbai SEZ and Maha Mumbai SEZ. Rajaya Sabha Member Sitaram Yechuri and legislator from Solapur Adam Master will be among the leaders present, expressing solidarity with the peasants, vehemently opposing the proposed SEZ of the Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Group. The protestors issued a press statement questioning the chosen location of fertile farmlands for SEZ in Raigad District, when large areas of hilly tracks, shrub and semi-arid lands are available in the district. The fertile paddy land is the only life support of 3 lakh peasant families living in the proposed SEZ region, according to the release. Jayant Patil informed that the current market price of land is Rs. 30 to Rs.40 lakh per acre, while the district collector has quoted the value as Rs.1.28 lakh per acre, land vendors have been quoting Rs. 2 Crore and the govt. proposes to pay Rs.5 lakh per acre, it is learnt. Patil also pointed out the ten concession, exemption and incentives showered on the SEZ, making it separate privileged nation within a nation. When questioned whether the stir would be withdrawn if better price for land and rehabilitation condition are offered, Vivekanand Patil stressed that the villagers will accept nothing short of leaving the farm land free from acquisition for SEZ. He added that they were not against development but it should be aptly located, adequate and welfare oriented. These sops include 100% exemption in income tax, sales tax, service tax, import-export license, duty on import of raw material, electrical surcharges, water tax, 100% foreign investments allowed, permission to foreign companies to take all the profits to homelands, total freedom for all labour legislation and other acts and no responsibilities towards rehabilitation of peasants displaced due to the force land acquisition nor any obligation to employee their sons and daughters. The provision to treat the SEZ as foreign territory not bound by Indian police and judiciary threatens the very unity and integrity of the nation. These were points that were emphasized upon. Jayant Patil informed that inspite of his stand opposing a separate labour law for SEZ, the ruling coalition in the state passed the draconian labour Act for SEZ, where no condition of minimum wages, employee welfare and job security would be applicable. When asked whether the PWP’s opposition to SEZ and airport Project in the region would not be inferred as their opposition to development in a region, where conditions in some village’s are worst than slums, MLA Vivek Patil made his stand clear to Navi Mumbai News in no uncertain terms. The protesting leadership representing the villagers opine that by allowing SEZ as, autonomous states beyond the sovereignty of the Indian Union, the effort and objective of the freedom fighters who laid their lives for India’s liberation would be defeated and independent colonies like, Goa and Pondicherry before liberation, would come into existence all over the country.

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