Staff Correspondent

``Change rules keeping farmers' interests in mind''

  • Farmers should be stakeholders in SEZs
  • Advocates higher compensation for farmers

    BHOPAL: Communist Party of India (Marxist) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said here on Monday that the rules governing special economic zones (SEZs) should be changed, keeping in mind the interests of farmers.

    Mr. Yechury was addressing a press conference at the State CPI(M) headquarters here on Monday afternoon. He said it was not proper to acquire agricultural land for setting up SEZs. The country was already facing the problem of food security. Only fallow land or single-crop land should be used for setting up SEZs, he said, adding that multi-crop land should be used only if it was essential.

    Mr. Yechury cited the example of West Bengal where 152 per cent compensation was being paid to farmers against land acquisition, and said farmers should be compensated on similar lines across the country if their land was taken over for SEZs. There should be a rule to provide a job to at least one member of a family whose land was being acquired, and the farmers should be made stakeholders in the SEZs.

    At present only 25 per cent of the land acquired was used for setting up production units in an SEZ, while 75 per cent was used for residential and other purposes. Instead, he said, 50 per cent should be used for production, 25 per cent for civic and community facilities and 25 per cent for housing.

    Drawing attention to farmers' suicides, Mr. Yechury said the UPA was not doing anything to address the problem. Efforts were needed to strengthen the minimum support price scheme.

    He said that the Bharatiya Janata Party was trying to polarise people on communal lines wherever it was in power. The BJP was now in power in Karnataka and the situation in Mangalore was tense following last week's communal clashes.

    Mr. Yechury briefed journalists about his meeting with BCCI chief and Union Minister Sharad Pawar. They discussed a combined Lagaan team, comprising cricket players from India and the neighbouring countries to celebrate the 1857 War of Independence, he said.

    On the debate regarding Mohamed Afzal's death sentence, Mr. Yechury said the law should follow its course. There was a provision for appeal even after the Supreme Court judgment, he said.

    When his attention was drawn to senior BJP leader L.K. Advani's statement that the Supreme Court decision be honoured, the CPI(M) leader said he should be silent on the issue as the previous BJP-led NDA Government had released and escorted terrorists across the border by a special plane.