GUWAHATI: After social media users and several organisations, a rights body expressed its opposition to an ordinance, approved by the Assam Cabinet which allows MSMEs to set up industries in the state without any kind of permission or license for three years.
The Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) urged Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi not to give assent to the ordinance after viewing that the policy would be “unconstitutional and disastrous” for the MSMEs as well as the people of Assam.
“The Ordinance effectively suspends the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act of 2013, the Forest Rights Act of 2006, Chapter X of the Assam Land And Revenue Regulation of 1886, the Environment Protection Act of 1986 and the Biological Diversity Act of 2002, which prohibit certain land acquisition and prescribe the manner in which land can be acquired. There is no provision either in the Constitution of India or these laws to suspend their operation for the purposes of acquiring lands to set up industries,” RRAG director Suhas Chakma said.
He said this would be disastrous for the MSMEs as their investment would remain stuck up due to the illegality of land acquisition. This is equally disastrous for the individuals or communities on whose lands industries will be set up as they will be forced to challenge illegal land acquisition before the courts, Chakma said.
“Assam needs to follow the laws and not suspend laws to boost investment as such illegal measures vitiate investment sentiment. People want to invest in a safe environment and not in a state of legal limbo,” he added.
According to the Assam government decision, anyone can set up an industrial unit in the state by submitting just a self-declaration. He or she will not need permission, clearance or licence for three years and the land will also be deemed converted for industrial purpose.
The ease-of-business announcement could not have come at a worse time – within weeks of an environmentally-disastrous oil well blowout and resultant fire at Baghjan in Tinsukia. The incident primed the mood of people to be wary in favour of environmental protection.
The government described the decision as “historic” but it annoyed cross-sections of people.
“What nonsense! The whole country is fighting the Draft EIA Notification 2020 for similar lapses and mindless clearances. Assam will be completely screwed under such leadership. And how can you be proud of such dumb decisions even after Baghjan?” a user had tweeted.
“Does it mean that anyone can buy a tea garden, throw out the labourers, and start a coke industry there? And govt will keep quiet?” another user asked.
Well-known wildlife activist Kaushik Barua said the government’s decision “defeats Assam’s territorial security and our ethos stand compromised”.
The CPM condemned the decision. Party leader Ishfaqur Rahman described it as anti-people and anti-farmer. “The policy will pave the grounding for loot of Assam’s rich natural resources by big capital and multinational companies,” he said.