[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Anti-EPZ strikes in E.India, as Maoists up the stakes
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun Jul 1 05:10:05 BST 2007
AFX News Limited
Cost of strikes in east India hits about 1.1 bln rupees; Maoists torch
06.27.07, 6:51 AM ET
RANCHI (Thomson Financial) - Maoist rebels in east India have torched
a railway station and kidnapped rail staff, police said today, as a
blockade aimed to stop government plans to establish special economic
zones entered a second day, its cost hitting an estimated at 1.1 bln
The strike in the impoverished states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and
Bihar has cost the state some 600 mln rupees, or 15 mln usd, officials
said. It has crippled transportation and brought iron and coal mining
in the mineral-rich state to a halt.
Shops and commercial establishments kept their shutters down, causing
estimated losses of about 500 mln rupees, Agence France-Presse
reported. Schools and colleges were closed and government offices
registered low attendance, the agency said.
The strike was was supposed to last 48 hours from yesterday and is
part of an increasingly determined effort to prevent the setting up of
the low-tax business hubs designed to lure foreign investors.
India's government is planning to build about 250 special economic
zones across the country, hoping the projects will attract foreign
investors, radically improve infrastructure and create new jobs while
maintaining the country's blistering economic growth figures.
Opponents say the government is sidelining the still-crucial farm
sector which employs more than 60 percent of the Indian workforce and
generates over a fifth of India's gross domestic product.
Meanwhile, despite a high alert among security forces, armed Maoists
-- who claim to be fighting for the rights of neglected tribes and
landless farmers and are active in half of India's 29 states -- burnt
down part of the Birandih railway station in West Bengal state.
The station is in a remote part of West Bengal, which borders
Jharkhand, a hotbed of Maoist insurgency, senior police officer Jogesh
Chatterjee said, noting three workers were kidnapped, while railway
protection force staff at the station were threatened.
tf.TFN-Europe_newsdesk at thomson.com
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