The board of approval (BoA) for special economic zones (SEZs) is slated to come up with suggestions on a compensation package for those displaced due to land acquisition for SEZs. The compensation includes stake in the special purpose vehicles created for the development of SEZs, besides providing jobs to the project-affected.
Since it will take a couple of years after land acquisition to develop SEZs, minimum wages for the dislocated population is also under consideration. Allocation of a certain portion of the developed land to the local population is also being looked at. The package is likely to be discussed by BoA later this week.
Officials said it was important to ensure that the displaced are properly compensated for their land and do not lose their livelihood. While it will not be mandatory for developers to follow the package suggested by BoA, officials said it would informally lay down norms for the rehabilitation package.
The commerce department wants that while the major chunk of the payment for the land should be made in cash, the inhabitants should also be offered a part of the payment in the form of shares in the SPV. This will be done by allocating a stake for the displaced population in the SPV so that the value could be unlocked once the company gets listed.
Officials as well as SEZ developers feel that the market capitalisation of SPVs would appreciate significantly once they go on stream. In the interim, the shares would be held by a trust and the benefit will be shared between all the dislocated people once the stake is offloaded.
To address livelihood concerns of the inhabitants, the ministry wants that one member of each displaced family should be offered a job in the units created in the SEZ. A monthly salary would be paid to the families even before the units became operational as it could take up to three years or more for work to start in an SEZ after the acquisition of land.
During this period, training programmes would be conducted since most of the rural population which is expected to be displaced by SEZs are unskilled for factory jobs.
It is felt that an improved compensation package for displaced people, especially farmers, would help in blunting political criticism of SEZs. The Left parties feel that land acquisition by SEZs is harming the interest of farmers and while regional resistance is ranged against some projects.
For example, former chief minister Bhajan Lals son and Lok Sabha MP Kuldeep Bishnoi launched a tirade against the proposed Reliance SEZ in Haryana. While the West Bengal government is going ahead with its own SEZs, the Left parties are planning an agitation against the projects coming up near Mumbai.