|According to A CITIZENS REPORT CARD ON SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES prepared by civil society organization, South Asia Citizens' web:
http://www.sacw.net/IMG/pdf/CITIZENSREPORTONSEZs.pdf THE NUMBERS
* Total amount of land to be acquired across India: 150,000 hectares (the area of National Capital Region). This land - predominantly agricultural and typically multicropped - is capable of producing close to 1 million tons of foodgrains. If SEZs are seen to be successful in the future and more cultivated land is acquired, they will endanger the food security of the country. * The latest available statistics on Special Economic Zones show that the Board of Approvals at the Ministry of Commerce, the central body authorised to clear SEZ proposals, has approved 578 SEZs of which 315 have been notified. * An analysis of figures up to 8th December 2008 displays a continuation of the pattern which has been evident since SEZ Act in 2005. * As of December 2008 the Central government gave formal approvals to a staggering 552 SEZs in 19 states; 272 of these have been notified. (As of April 2009 the total number of Formal approvals was 578 and notified SEZs were 330) * With the significant economic slow-down towards the end of 2008 for the first time we started to see companies applying to de-register/denotify SEZs and it remains to be seen what the net effect will be. * The overwhelming part of SEZs continues to be in information technology and related industries. 181 notified SEZs exist for IT companies representing 66% of the total number of SEZs. Additionally there are 341 formally approved and 11 in-principle approvals. * With all the different SEZs taken together at various stages of approval the IT sector still accounts for more than half at 55% of the total. The second largest sector will be multi-product with 9% of the all zones. * Andhra Pradesh tops the list of notified SEZs with 57, followed by Tamil Nadu on 44 and Maharashtra on 43. * Maharashtra has the most SEZs waiting to be notified however with 104 formally approved and 34 in principle, compared to AP's 99 and 2 respectively and Tamil Nadu's 66 and 18. * These three states thus account for almost half of all the SEZs in the country. The share is especially significant among the already notified SEZs with 144 out of the total 274. * Even more imbalanced is the spread of SEZs when one considers the locations within each state. 48 out of the 99 formally approved SEZs in Andhra Pradesh are in or close to Hyderabad, while 34 of 66 formally approved are similarly in or close to Chennai. * The main number of SEZs can thus easily be characterised as being in the IT-sector and in one of primarily Western or Southern cities. * This said, almost every state has tried to get a couple of SEZs to be established within their territories includingtiny Dadra & Haveli's 4, and Pondicherry's 1 formally approved zones. * 53 multiproduct SEZs are at the in principle approval stage meaning they might soon become formally notified. These are the zones which require really large areas of land and have been contentious on the issue of displacement. * Recently the rule preventing larger SEZs than 5,000 hectares was lifted which lead the Adani group to apply for and get granted a merger between the 3 zones of (4498 + 2658 + 2648 hectares) it had created next to each other at Mundra in Gujarat to avoid the land ceiling * Among the actually operating SEZs the biggest ones apart from the Mundra zone(s) in Gujarat is APIIC 2,206 ha SEZ in Visakhapatnam and the Kakinada SEZ 1,035 ha both in Andhra Pradesh and the Navi Mumbai SEZ 1,223 ha in Maharashtra * With the many really large multi-product SEZs in the In Principle category these cover an area of 1.22 lakh hectares, or 869 hectares per SEZ on average.ISSUES OF CONCERN
1. Large scale requirement of land and Forced Acquisition of Land - India is almost unique in its concept of creating SEZs on demand: i.e. the location, size and nature of the zone is explicitly determined not by state economic policy but by the demands of private capital. 2. Despite issuing of guidelines by the Ministry of Commerce and the EGoM, that no forced acquisition of land will take place for private SEZs on 15th June 2007, nearly all states are using the Land Acquisition Act 1894 to acquire the land for developers of SEZs and that too in the absence of any provision for rehabilitation 3. In some states like Tamil Nadu and AP the governments are even using the urgency clause - 17/4 of the LAA to acquire land compulsorily. 4. It is argued that much of the land being diverted for SEZs is already available with the State Industrial development Corporations (IDCs). While this is a fact, it needs to be specified that in many cases lands which had previously been acquired by IDCs and are now being transferred to SEZ developers also used the Land Acquisition Act. 5. These sales are obviously at much higher rates than their original acquisition price from the farmers. 6. The issue of compensation at market value, even to land owners is meaningless as the scales are heavily weighed in favor of private buyers and Government owned Industrial corporations, who are the informed negotiators in deciding the packageLandless and Agricultural labourers displaced without compensation-
1. Almost 80% of the agricultural population in India owns only about 17% of the total agriculture land, making them near-landless workers. Far more families and communities depend on a piece of land (for work, grazing) than those who own it outright. However, compensation is being discussed only for those who hold titles to land. No compensation has been planned for those who do not. 2. In states like Gujarat a large part of the land being diverted to SEZs is in the category of common or gowcher land (referred to wrongly as'wasteland').Since these lands are 'common lands' with no individual titles, they are transferred without even consulting the local communities and panchayats. 3. Temple or Panchami land in Tamil Nadu and Waqf board lands in Andhra Pradesh are other examples of Public lands that have been expropriated and privatised for SEZs. 4. The most outrageous acquisitions are taking place in Andhra Pradesh which has the highest number of SEZ approvals, in the form of acquiring assigned lands (allotted to Dalits and Scheduled Tribes) for SEZs. . This has been seen clearly in places like Polepally, Kakinada, Chittoor and Anantapur where SEZs are proposed.Destruction of Agro-based and rural economies-
1. The bulk of land being acquired for SEZs is fertile, agricultural land, especially in case of the multi-product zones. Agriculture Scientists have estimated that close to 1.14 lakh farming households (each household on an average comprising five members) and an additional 82,000 farm worker families who are dependent upon these farms for their livelihoods, will be displaced. 2. The total loss of income to the farming and the farm worker families, then, is an astounding Rs.212-crore a year. These were the estimates in 2006 after the initial SEZ approvals which are now multiplied three-fold.Creation of exploitative employment opportunities and working conditions resulting from nullification of labour protection laws -
* The SEZ policy of the government transfers all the powers of the state Labor Commissioner to the Development Commissioners of the SEZs. * The power in the hands of the development Commissioner to declare SEZs as "public utility services" under the Industrial Disputes Act would mean that in SEZ areas workers will have no rights to strike or even to form unions and organize collectively to bargain for better wages or working conditions.ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS
* The Ministry of Finance conducted a study, and came up with the figures that the cumulative revenue loss from tax holidays to SEZs over the period 2004-05 to 2009-10 is estimated to be 1,75,487 Cr. * The Ministry of Finance conducted a study, and came up with the figures that the cumulative revenue loss from tax holidays to SEZs over the period 2004-05 to 2009-10 is estimated to be 1,75,487 Cr. * In its performance audit-report on indirect taxes for Union Government tabled in parliament on 11 March 2008, the CAG brought 370 SEZ units under scanner with a limited objective to verify if they had complied with existing Customs Act, Rules, notifications etc. The review brought out systemic as well as compliance weaknesses that caused lost revenues to the tune of Rs.246.72 crores.