People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 40

October 12, 2008


Kerala Newsletter

LDF Govt To Send SEZ  Proposals To Centre C P Aboo Backer

THE Kerala LDF has recommended to the state government to send all the ten applications for Special Economic Zones approved by the expert committee headed by the chief secretary to the central government for consideration. The LDF decided to allow setting up the SEZs but with clear provisions for protecting the employees' rights and the interests of the state.

The LDF resolved that the SEZ Act of the central government cannot be wholly implemented in the state. Kerala will have its own regulations while SEZ is implemented. On the one hand it will be ensured that the interests of workers and the state would be protected, and on the other, it will also be seen that no industrialist leaves the state on account of restrictions. The LDF convener Vaikkom Viswan briefed this policy to the media persons after the LDF meeting at the AKG centre, Thiruvananthapuram, which was presided over by the state chief minister V S Achuthanandan.

LDF has had its own perspective regarding the implementation of the SEZ policy. The implementation of SEZ should be moderated to suit this policy. The right of the workers to employment should be protected. Agricultural land should not be used for SEZ purposes. Environment and ecology should be protected. Of the land allotted to SEZ, 70 per cent should be used exclusively for industrial purposes. Only the remaining 30 per cent could be used for other related purposes. It has to be ensured that after the SEZ is allowed to be set up, there should not be a situation that the whole land is sold out or used for any other purpose as it would only help the land mafia. Special concessions would be given only for industrial purposes. The accessory enterprises will not have any concession on account of SEZ. The concessions in sales lax etc should be decided later after deliberations.

Again it is not the responsibility of the government to find out land for the private entrepreneurs. But if it is necessary to find an additional 10 or 20 cents of land to annex to the already acquired land of the entrepreneur, the government might help them to find and get it. The tariff for electricity would not be diluted or withdrawn in the case of SEZ units. The 30 per cent land for related purposes can have employees quarters, hotels etc. But these would not have the concessions granted to the SEZ. Another important feature of LDF government's policy is that the SEZs would come under the contract labour act, too. SEZ owners would have to pay the building tax as per the Panchayathi Raj Act (Article 200). Sales tax would not be levied during the first stage of production. The point at which ST should be levied would be decided after discussions between the owners and the government. The state government has received altogether 21 applications for SEZ. The ones that are ready to abide by the conditions would be sent to central government for approval.

Co-op Dept to open 10,000  permanent markets

In order to stem the unbearable hike in prices, the state cooperative department has resolved to open 10,000 markets in different parts of the state, said G Sudhakaran, minister for cooperation. The finance department has been approached to grant a sum of Rs 200 crore for this purpose.

This year during the Onam season there was a sale of not less than Rs 51 crore. Last year the sale was only Rs 30 crore.

The Ramzan sales depots will continue upto October 1. From this the government expects a sale of Rs 15 crore. After the LDF came to power the sales through the cooperative department has crossed Rs 200 crore mark.

Chengara: The Fake Struggle Continues

The fake struggle at Chengara continues even as the number of participants dwindle to a miniscule number. A number of participants of the Chengara struggle do have their own land and houses. A housewife who owned three houses and has sold out two houses is now participating in the strike. There are many such people participating in the struggle. They are given the illusion that if they take part in this “struggle”, they would get land. The land is now in the hands of Harrisons Malayalam Company, which has had a lease of 99 years. The workers of the company are denied entry to their work site. The lease period has expired. The problem is entangled in legal intricacies. The High Court has asked the government to remove the obstructionists, but the government is not using any force to remove them in order to avoid a social confrontation. The struggle is overtly and covertly supported by anti-communist elements and extremists (see PD October 5 issue for a detailed write-up on this issue).