Opposition, NGOs slam Maharashtra govt for 'pro-developer policy'

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 03, 2013 20:04 hrs

Opposition parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have joined hands with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to lead a scathing attack on the Maharashtra government for its new industrial policy, cleared by the state cabinet on Wednesday.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena alleged the policy had been cleared under the influence of the Congress party’s high command in Delhi. They termed it as a housing and not an industrial policy, which aims to benefit builders and developers at the cost of the interests of farmers.

Moreover, the Action Committee against Globalisation, an NGO engaged in taking up issues faced by the displaced and project-affected people during land acquisition, said the new industrial policy was purely a “land grabbing policy” which would serve the interests of the realty players.

Interestingly, NCP, an alliance partner of the Congress party both at the Centre and the state, opposed the policy proposals, especially the one that seeks to convert special economic zones (SEZs) into integrated industrial areas and townships, at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

According to the proposal, 60 per cent land in such such integrated projects would be used for industrial purpose, 30 per cent for residential and 10 per cent for commercial plans. NCP claimed big developers would exploit the opportunity to grab lands at a throwaway price under the pretext of industrialisation.

However, the Congress has defended the new industrial policy. Industries Minister Narayan Rane said the policy would definitely help Maharashtra retain its pre-eminent position in attracting investments.

“Infact, it’s a mere political statement and not a policy. This is aimed at mobilising massive funds ahead of the 2014 Assembly and parliamentary elections. We will certainly oppose it,” Vindo Tawade, leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, told Business Standard.

Tawade expressed serious displeasure over the state government for not taking stakeholders into confidence before it was approved by the state cabinet.

Tawade’s views were shared by Subhash Desai, Shiv Sena’s leader in the state Assembly. “It seems the policy was under Delhi’s influence. It will benefit industrialists and builders as 40 per cent land will be thrown open for residential and commercial purposes,” Desai said.

MNS’ Bala Nandgaonkar, also said the policy had been approved under Delhi’s pressure. “It’s a housing policy and not an industrial one. It will benefit industrialists and builders and not villagers and farmers, whose lands have been acquired at low prices.”

Ulka Mahajan, convenor of the Action Committee against Globalisation, said the committee had been consistent in its views that the land acquired under the garb of industrialisation were ultimately converted into townships and realty development.

“This is a grand ploy to grab lands under the development of integrated industrial areas. We will step up our agitation against the new industrial policy. More people will be displaced due to land grabbing compared to the government’s promise of employment generation for 2 million in next five years,” she alleged.

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