ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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West Bengal and SEZ Policy

This is with reference to ‘Reflections in the Aftermath of Nandigram’ (May 5), written by a CPI(M) supporter. The author is pained to see the Left Front government joining the “special economic zone (SEZ) bandwagon”. I agree with her/ him that SEZs “symbolise the most obnoxious face of neoliberal economic development in India”. In such zones, the developers and the entrepreneurs would enjoy tax concessions, while the democratic rights of the people would be drastically violated.

But the author argues that “…it would be factually incorrect to suggest that the government of West Bengal has been the most aggressive in pursuing the SEZ policy compared to Maharashtra, Haryana, or Gujarat”. Our information however tells a different story. Much before the SEZ Act was passed by the central government in 2005, the West Bengal assembly enacted the West Bengal Special Economic Zones Act, 2003. The Act stated, “SEZ means a specifically delineated dutyfree enclave, as if it were a foreign territory” (emphasis ours). On June 12, 2003, the secretary to the department of industries, government of West Bengal, informed through an official communiqué (Memo No 1825/JS/DC/ 2003), “SEZs are specifically delineated duty-free enclaves treated as foreign territory for the purpose of industrial services and trade operations with exemption from customs duty…Domestic regulations, restrictions and infrastructure inadequacies are sought to be eliminated in the SEZs for creating an internationally competitive environment.” So I think it would be factually incorrect to claim that West Bengal is less aggressive in implementing SEZ policy.

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