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Govt hit with ‘lease’ dare

- Meghalaya’s new industrial policy under scanner

Shillong, Dec. 16: A day after coming out with a new industrial policy, the Meghalaya government was today challenged to prove that “lease” is not a “transfer” in relation to land.

“The CSWO (Civil Society Women’s Organisation) challenges the government to prove that lease is not a transfer when in Meghalaya Land Transfer Act, the definition of transfer also means lease,” its president Agnes Kharshiing said in a statement.

She alleged that the government was clearly trying to sell off land and allowing industrialists to destroy land and exploit the people.

“Who is the chief minister trying to fool by saying that his government is trying to bring in a good industrial policy?” she asked.

Yesterday, the Mukul Sangma government unveiled the Meghalaya Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy, 2012 which will replace the Industrial Policy, 1997.

“The main component in this policy relates to land wherein land alienation will be kept under check,” Sangma had told reporters. The old policy had no safeguards on land, he had said, adding that there would be “no outright transfer of land” to industries under the new policy.

“All land made available for setting up of industries will only be on lease basis. The land will belong to the government and if the land is no longer put to use for industrial purposes, it will revert to the government,” Sangma had said.

Kharshiing questioned Sangma by saying, “The CSWO would also like an answer from the chief minister. What does he mean by ‘if the land is no longer used for industries, it will be reverted back to the government’? Does he mean to say that when the industry has destroyed land, forest, the environment and the water resources, it will revert to our people?”

She said the government cannot lease land to industrialists who have never brought in any benefit to the state.

“Instead, our state is being exploited for its mineral resources and in the process even the agriculture is taking a setback. Farmers are forced to buy fertilisers to revitalise soil. This is all a network of corporates and industrialists to fleece the people and drive them from their land,” Kharshiing added.

She said the land in Meghalaya cannot be transferred so easily and alleged that the government was trying to fool the people. “This is all in connivance with industrialists to make more funds before elections,” she added.

She said her organisation would go to all lengths to put a stop to this greed of politicians.

“The CSWO has proof that a lot of criminal acts are being done to destroy government papers and files. This is very unconstitutional and a crime. Those who are responsible will have to pay,” she said.


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