Government may set up social development zones

March 12th, 2008 - 9:32 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 12 (IANS) Given the social unrest triggered by the special economic zones (SEZs) as in West Bengal’s Nandigram, the government Wednesday told the Lok Sabha about moves to set up social development zones (SDZs) in the country. Minister of State for Planning M.V. Rajasekharan informed parliament in a written reply: “The preliminary discussions to explore the feasibility of setting up SDZs have been held.”

His statement was in response to queries from Asaduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimmen (AIMIM) and M. Jagannath of the Telgu Desam Party (TDP).

The minister, however, did not respond to their specific queries like the role of SDZs in curbing social unrest and uplifting the masses.

The government has held a couple of meetings with certain ministries to work out the details of the SDZs ever since the idea came from the office of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over a month back.

According to government sources, the proposal has gone down well with the Planning Commission and a few other ministries including health and education.

They said the idea of SDZs was rooted in the fact that in the 11th Five-Year Plan, the public investment in education would be made for 30 central universities, eight Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and seven Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).

As per the proposal mooted by the central government, the state governments will acquire more land than what is required for setting up the central institutions, in which the SDZs can also be set up that will become “knowledge townships where knowledge-related services become available to people.”

The government feels that “SDZs can address problems of shortage of infrastructure in education, health and vocational education. The private sector, which is looking for investment opportunities in education and health, is constrained by land and the regulatory regime but SDZs would encourage them.”

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