India promises no industrial zone in Bengal’s Nandigram

India promises no industrial zone in Bengal’s Nandigram
AFP
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First Published: Sat, Mar 17 2007. 05 57 PM IST
Updated: Sat, Mar 17 2007. 05 57 PM IST
Kolkata: A proposed industrial zone will be scrapped in a West Bengal village where police shot dead 14 residents protesting its development, the ruling party of the state said on 17 March.
“There will be no SEZ (Special Economic Zone) in Nandigram,” said Biman Bose, West Bengal secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Protesters in Nandigram village, 120 km south of Kolkata, were killed on 14 March when police opened fire in the bloodiest demonstration yet against state government plans to buy land to set up the zones.
The announcement came after a statewide one-day general strike on 16 March protesting the killings in Nandigram where the government planned to set up a chemical industry hub backed by the Salim Group, an Indonesian conglomerate.
More than 50 people were injured in clashes and over 800 people detained as protesters angered over the killings tried to torch government offices and buses .
Police had been ordered by the government to break through the blockade at Nandigram which had been a no-go area for authorities since 11 people died in protests there against SEZs in January.
The unrest in January led the federal government to suspend plans for scores of such zones -- privately run enclaves with world-class infrastructure and tax breaks to lure draw foreign investment.
The SEZs, planned nationwide, are seen as central to India’s drive to boost economic growth and draw foreign investment.
Police said on 14 March they had fired in self-defence in Nandigram as thousands of demonstrators hurled stones and homemade bombs.
he latest violence has renewed debate over whether farmland should be used for industry in India, where some two-thirds of the billion-plus population live off agriculture.
Bose, after a meeting of the Left Front, a nine-party coalition, told reporters the government would also withdraw police in phases from Nandigram, but gave no time frame.
All was quiet in Nandigram on 17 March, police said.
“Two police camps have been set up and security men have been asked to take all necessary measures for the protection of the villagers,” West Bengal police chief Raj Kanojia told AFP.
The protests have piled pressure on the federal government to review its policy on SEZs, of which there are so far 14 in operation in India.
On Friday, the government repeated that approvals will not be granted for SEZs if there are disagreements over land acquisition.
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First Published: Sat, Mar 17 2007. 05 57 PM IST