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Soon, social audit of SEZs in State
September, 25th 2009

Social activist Medha Patkar termed the SEZ (Special Economic Zone) Act as the special exploitation act, during her visit to Chennai, on Thursday. She announced that as a mark of peoples protest against this kind of land grab displacement, National Alliance of Peoples Movement, an umbrella organisation of several like-minded NGOs, will conduct a peoples social audit in Tamil Nadu from October 23 to 26 on various SEZ projects.

She told reporters, The exploitation and the displacement happening under this land grab is unprecedented. In the past five years, this kind of displacement has increased 10 times. In Tamil Nadu, out of the 69 SEZs, 49 were notified, but no rehabilitation package has reached people.

We have conducted a similar audit in Maharashtra. In Tamil Nadu, teams consisting of sociologists, economists, social workers and media personalities, will visit the SEZ sites and access the impact on the local community in terms of social, economic, political and ecological aspects.

Based on the findings, they will present a report to all the ministries concerned and exert pressure on them to act, she said and added that the government has to chalk out development plans in such a way that they could minimise the displacement.

On airport secondary runway displacement, the activist said she is not against the airports, but questioned why the Airport Authority of India should be extravagant in setting up additional lights for the runway, which would displace 5000 families at Kollapakkam.

For this project, the government plans to acquire 40 more acres besides the 1,060 acres. Instead, it can go for a simple airport, which will serve the purpose, she said.

Though under the SEZ Act, agriculture, pisiculture and horticulture were classified as industries, what is the need for destroying agricultural land, resulting in a food crisis? Tamil Nadu Government is only looking at post-modern development.

The various stakeholders, who had lost their lands due to SEZ projects and airport expansion plan, represented their cases. She also presented an inaugural address at the Madras Christian College at their national conference of human rights and the marginalised.

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