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Ally says FDI will contravene land laws

Shillong, Oct. 10: The Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), the oldest regional political party in the state, today vehemently opposed the Union cabinet’s decision to allow 51 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, saying this would come into conflict with Meghalaya’s land laws.

In a letter to chief minister Mukul Sangma, HSPDP president and veteran legislator H.S. Lyngdoh said the FDI in multi-brand retail would allow “control of policies” by foreign investors like Wal-Mart, Carrefour SA and Tesco.

“As specifications will be according to their likes and dislikes, it may put our produce and products in jeopardy, particularly, those of the local variety and produced from organic farming,” Lyngdoh, whose party is a partner in the Sangma-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government, stated.

He said neighbourhood shops and vendors would be adversely affected in the long run, implying loss of livelihood.

Further, the FDI in multi-brand retail would entail providing a large area of land for the setting up of malls with vast parking space and, therefore, will come into conflict with the intention and provisions of the Meghalaya Land Transfer Act of 1971, amended from time to time, the Sixth Schedule and other constitutional safeguards to indigenous land and livelihood, he added.

“As the Union government has given the freedom of choice to respective state governments, the HSPDP wishes to inform you that it is against allowing FDI in multi-brand retail in Meghalaya,” the letter stated.

He urged the chief minister and the government not to take decisions in favour of FDI, both in multi-brand retail and other financial sector, that could be detrimental to promoting local entrepreneurship, livelihoods and contributing to land alienation.

The HSPDP also expressed its reservation against the recommendations of the Vijay Kelkar Committee to phase out subsidies by 2015, beginning from 2013, as a majority of the state’s population is yet to be financially sound.

“The majority is also yet to be out of the poverty level to be independent of subsidies, particularly, on kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas, fertiliser and essential commodities available at public distribution shops. Therefore, we would want you to convey the same to the ministry concerned of the Union Government and for the Union cabinet not to accept the recommendations of the Kelkar Committee report as it is,” Lyngdoh stated in the letter.

The letter was also forwarded to Union finance minister P. Chidambaram.