SEZs should protect farmers

In his article, “Farmers as victims” (Oct 18), Professor Janak Raj Gupta has provided valuable information regarding the special economic zone (SEZ) model. Our leaders are aping new models which do not suit our regional and local agrarian conditions.

Our leaders and administrators have failed to govern and deliver the goods through thoughtful policies and planning; they only want to flourish on foolhardy ventures. Globalisation and liberalisation do not imply that all attractive ideas from outside should be implemented without care for national needs and socio-cultural compulsions.

The new economic policies adopted by the government of the day should help, and not affect, the interests of our farmers.





The writer has rightly stated that authoritarian China’s SEZ model will not work in democratic India either economically or socially. No political party is sincerely committed to the farmers’ wellbeing. Suicide has become a ritual for hapless farmers.

The SEZs should be farmer-oriented and it is binding on the government to ensure that no SEZ flourishes at the farmers’ cost. Sops, freebies, packages, subsidies and so on will not help solve the farmers’ problems unless they have adequate representation from their own fraternity in Parliament and state legislatures.

The media is, no doubt, sympathetic. Honest intellectuals too favour the suffering peasantry. The government will have to be farmer friendly.

Prof HARI SINGH, Kheri Jhat (Jhajjar)


Many leaders and experts have expressed reservations about the way the SEZs are being approved of. No doubt, we cannot continue living in the old world. Agriculture on its own cannot sustain our huge population forever. We have to launch rapid industrialisation and well-planned urbanisation for providing gainful jobs to our unemployed youth.

Reports say, large tracts of fertile land have been acquired for setting up the SEZs in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. In Jhajjar (Haryana), 10,000 hectares of land has been handed over to Mukesh Ambani for developing the SEZ. Critics say, “this land can feed 2.4 lakh people in perpetuity. And a hundred such SEZs can disastrously impact 2.4 crore people,” (The Hindu, Oct 8).

Sadly, in the absence of free debate and discussion, we don’t have a clear-cut understanding and approach on an issue like the SEZs. The farmers should not be forced to part with their fertile land at any cost at the behest of big corporate houses who have been at the receiving end since our Independence. Farmers should not be deprived of their land — the only perennial source of their livelihood.



To create employment opportunities and strengthen infrastructure, SEZs are being set up in many states. In Punjab, at the behest of the Chief Minister, fertile land of even petty farmers is being snatched away despite protests. The agricultural land is of their forefathers and their permanent source of livelihood. The farmers are already hit due to paucity of electricity, water, natural calamities and costly fertilisers.

The Punjab government is promising due compensation to the farmers. But where will they keep the money? If they keep it in the banks, they will be forced to pay tax.


Why diversify crops?

Wheat output in Punjab and Haryana may fall due to the fast depletion of land under cultivation and the emergence of more townships near big cities. Unauthorised colonies and migration of some Punjab and Haryana’s landlords from their residences to their farms have reducing the land under cultivation. Two-laning and four-laning of roads and mushrooming of marriage places in the countryside have also resulted in the depletion of agricultural land.

Consequently, I do not foresee any tangible benefits from crop diversification. Even otherwise, only the crop pattern of wheat and rice is suitable to the climatic condition of Punjab and Haryana. Can any one produce here Kashmiri kesar, Assam and Kangra tea and Karnataka haldi in Punjab? I tried plantation of suffada trees and pulses, but failed.

Besides wheat and rice, sugarcane can be grown in Punjab. Though sugarcane is more profitable than wheat and rice, the government had discouraged its production by not allowing the sugar mills to sell their produce in time and help farmers get early payment.

Prof GOPAL SINGH, Amritsar

Helping the elderly

This has reference to the news-item, “Law to protect interests of elderly” (Oct 18). I welcome the proposal of the Union Ministry of Social Justice. The legislation will contain provisions for need-based maintenance of the elderly members of the family by their children.

Unfortunately, the children dump the aged into the old age homes much against their wishes. They are not provided even items like spectacles, newspapers and medicines. They are also detailed for petty jobs like escorting children to schools, bringing milk, vegetables and household work. When ladies go out for shopping, picnics or parties, the old parents are told to take care of the children.

There is no social security in India. But why cannot the expertise of the elderly be utilised properly? They also deserve help. Separate windows at public utility places like post offices, banks, hospitals are needed to exempt them from long queues. They need some subsistence allowance too. The government should implement the Health Care Scheme included in the Directive Principles of State Policy. There is need for an attitudinal change between the parents and children.

M.L. BATURA, Second World War Veteran, Karnal



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