Monday, December 10, 2007

on the face of it, SEZ's (special economic zones) are a win-win-loss. win for the 'poor' industry and 'very poor' businessmen, win for the elected politicians who are now on the payroll of the poor industries and loss for the environment, agriculture and farmers.

now going a step further the 'liberal' and 'pro reform' UPA government is favoring a win-win-loser for degraded forest land in name of 'forest SEZ'. the idea is to involve the private industries in degraded forest land so that it can be planted with commercial trees fit for industries in terms of paper making, textiles, etc, etc.

this is called leasing out forest land to industries so that agro forestry can be done. the idea is 'revolutionary'. but only on paper. in many cases, these degraded forest land are close to main forests or these 'degraded' land can be a vital catchment for rainfall or these lands might be used by local marginalized communities for grazing, dead wood collection. there are many other uses too.

what the government ought to have done is to involve local panchayats and local communities so that they can come with viable plans to re energize these degraded forest land so that those local communities can benefit hugely in terms of water retention, in terms of cattle grazing or even agro forestry.

but from delhi and hand in glove with poor industries, these crucial lands is being parceled lock stock and barrel and will force out the local communities and the local environment out of a vital area of regeneration of degraded forest land.

we had SEZ, now forest SEZ and now what? perhaps a river SEZ, a ocean SEZ and finally india SEZ?


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