Special Economic Zones (SEZ)

  • Centre show-cause to 12 firms; talks with Goa on SEZs begin

    The Centre has initiated talks with the Goa government regarding the de-notification of three special economic zones (SEZs) in the state, including the 123.2 hectare-Meditab Specialities SEZ planned by pharma major Cipla. The move follows the controversial decision of the state to scrap all SEZs within its territory following widespread public agitations against such tax-free enclaves. The developers of Meditab SEZ have already made investments of over Rs 130 crore in the project. Following a notification in April 2007, Meditab had also committed investments worth Rs 500 crore and imported machinery for its pharma plant. The law ministry has recommended addressing the issue of compensation to SEZ developers if the SEZs are de-notified. Besides Meditab SEZ, the other de-notified SEZs in the state are 20.36-hectare biotech SEZ by Penisula Pharma Research Centre and 105.91-hectare IT/ITeS SEZ by K Raheja Corp. The Centre has also issued show-cause notices to developers of 12 SEZs, which obtained formal and in-principle approvals, in the state, commerce secretary GK Pillai said here on Monday. Pillai heads the board of approval (BoA), the nodal body granting permission for establishing SEZs. "(As regards) all the formal and in-principle approval given to SEZs in Goa, the BoA will issue show-cause notices to them (developers) in the light of the recommendation of the state, following the principle of natural justice,' Pillai said. The developers will be asked why the permission granted to them should not be cancelled. On the 8 SEZ proposals that were forwarded by the state but yet to come before the BoA, Pillai said, the Centre has decided to treat them as "withdrawn'. The state had on December 31, 2007, asked the Centre to scrap all the SEZs citing representations, which said the zones would adversely affect tourism and environment. The state also said it does not have adequate water and electricity for such massive industrial activities. There was also criticism that SEZs will take away scarce land in the state. The Centre has indicated that the state government will have to compensate the developers of the SEZs for the investments made along with the interest amount to avoid litigation and further complications. Officials wonder how the land, acquired for the notified SEZs, would be returned to the original owners. At best, the government can deny the developers the status of SEZ, which entitles them for tax concessions. "Even if the SEZ status is removed, the units will remain in the domestic tariff area,' an official said.

  • BoA clears 14 new SEZs

    The Board of Approval (BoA) of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) on Monday cleared 14 new proposals, including ten formal approvals. While two SEZs each have been cleared in Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, one each will come up in Maharashtra, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. The BoA granted formal approvals to two SEZs of the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd. (SIPCOT), one for transport engineering goods at Tirunelveli and another of automobile and auto ancillary at Thiruvannamalai. Similarly, two SEZs of Mahindra Worldcity (Jaipur) Ltd. of handicrafts and light engineering at Jaipur were given formal approvals. Other SEZs cleared include an information technology SEZ by Videocon Realtors and Infrastructure Ltd. at Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, IT SEZ by Devbhumi Realtors Pvt. Ltd. at Ranga Reddy District in Andhra Pradesh, pharmaceuticals SEZ by JB SEZ Pvt. Ltd. at Panoli in Gujarat and Power SEZ by Wardha Power Company at Chandrapur in Maharashtra. According to Commerce Secretary G. K. Pillai, who also heads the Board of Approval, so far formal approvals have been granted for setting up of 439 SEZs out of which 201 have been notified as on date. The Commerce Secretary said that over Rs. 67,347 crore had been invested in these notified SEZs, giving direct employment to 97,478 persons, which is in addition to the employment provided to 1.83 lakh persons by the seven Central Government established SEZs.

  • GMAS warns of agitation if SEZs not scrapped

    Goa's Movement Against SEZs Convenor Matanhy Saldanha Tuesday warned GMAS would be forced to launch second stage of its agitation if the State government failed to get all SEZs, including the three notified ones, cancelled immediately. In a statement issued today, Saldanha said the Board of Approval at the Centre had contradicted the statement of Commerce Ministry that SEZs would not be imposed on the State and more so when the Government does not want it. BoA recently issued show-cause notices to 12 SEZs asking why the approval granted to them should not be withdrawn stating that the move was in line with the principle of natural justice. At the same time the Board deferred the decision on de-notifying the three notified zones giving its promoters a new lease of life. The above moves of BoA have not gone well with GMAS whose Convenor charged the former of contradicting the public statement of Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath who had said SEZs would not be imposed on the people of Goa if they don't want them. In the statement, Saldanha said the decision of BoA on 12 SEZs and the move seeking consultation with the State Government on three notified ones smacked of double standards. "If BoA takes any decision contrary to the will of the people, GMAS will be forced to construe that the former (Board) and the Union Commerce Ministry are involved in underhand dealings in connivance with the State Government to approve SEZs,' Saldanha declared. He, however, said GMAS was pleased with Cipla's plan to shift from Keri to some other place in the country. We request the promoters of other two notified SEZs to voluntarily leave Goa as the zones are shunned by Goans, he remarked. Meanwhile, the convenor said a meeting has been fixed on February 27, at 11.30 am to take up the subject.

  • Govt does not want any SEZs, reiterates CM

    Chief Minister Digambar Kamat has reiterated that the State government does not want any SEZs in Goa including the three already notified ones. The SEZ Board of Approval at the Centre gave a fresh lease of life to the developers by deciding to seek reply from them as to why their projects shouldn't be scrapped in the light of the concerns raised by the Goa government and citizens' groups. Goa's Movement Against SEZs delegation led by convenor Matanhy Saldanha met the chief minister at his Altinho residence to clarify the government stand in the matter. "He (Kamat) has assured us that the government will not allow any SEZs in Goa,' Saldanha told Herald. It may be recalled that despite a strong pro-SEZ lobby in the cabinet, the chief minister on December 31 had taken a decision to scrap all SEZ projects in Goa and subsequently the decision was conveyed to the Centre. Since then however, the Centre has deferred taking any decision on SEZs in Goa until two days ago when BoA decided to consult the Goa government on the issue. The former Cortalim MLA was critical of the BoA, saying it has contradicted the statement of Commerce Ministry that SEZs would not be imposed on the State and more so when the Government does not want it. Yesterday, GMAS had warned that it would be forced to launch second stage of its agitation if the State Government failed to get all SEZs, including the three notified ones, cancelled immediately. "If BoA takes any decision contrary to the will of the people, GMAS will be forced to construe that the former (Board) and the Union Commerce Ministry are involved in underhand dealings in connivance with the State Government to approve SEZs,' Saldanha declared. CONFUSION: There appears to be some confusion over the number of SEZs quoted by BoA. Union ministry of Commerce had approved seven SEZs for Goa till December 2007 of which three were notified. But BoA now says that show cause notices would be sent to 12 SEZs. Officials here too wonder whether the figure quoted by BoA is correct and if so which are the ones as no communication had been received by the state government pertaining to more than seven. The 8 additional proposals which were forwarded to the Centre anyway are scrapped.

  • Drop any scheme that warrants land acquisition, says CPI

    State secretary of Communist Party of India (CPI) D. Pandian has urged the State government to drop any scheme that involved acquisition of land and demolition of houses. Speaking at a meeting at Sholinganallur on Wednesday, he said that the Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) had proposed the demolition of many houses constructed on

  • Economic Survey on SEZs

    Acquisition of land for developing special economic zones (SEZs) is a major cause for concern, says the Economic Survey for 2007-08, which was released yesterday by Finance Minister P Chidambaram. The Finance Ministry presents the Economic Survey in Parliament every year, just before the Union Budget. It is the ministry's view on the economic development of the country in the year gone by, and the prospects for the year ahead. The survey has also expressed "apprehension' about the possible "misuse of the (SEZ) scheme and relocation of existing industries into SEZs'. It says the Board of Approval (BoA) headed by Commerce Secretary G K Pillai, which approves SEZ proposals, would not give a go-ahead to SEZs that "have carried out or propose to carry out compulsory acquisition of land

  • Buddhadeb appeals for peace at Nandigram

    MAKING AMENDS: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee distributing land ownership deeds to landless farmers in Nandigram, East Midnapur in West Bengal on Tuesday. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee appealed to Opposition parties in Nandigram on Tuesday "to join hands [with the State Government] and work together for development in Nandigram which is only possible if there is peace' but cautioned against allowing Maoists to re-enter as they were bent on fomenting fresh unrest in the area. "I believe peace will gradually return but we must be cautious against the Maoists who have now fled from re-entering Nandigram. We have information that they are training in areas like Jharkhand and planning to return. They should not be allowed in under any circumstances. They are an army of killers,' Mr Bhattacharjee said. He was speaking on the occasion of the handing over of pattas [land ownership deeds] in the Nandigram area to landless peasants who included those from the scheduled castes and tribes and the Muslim community. Admitting that his government had failed to convince the people of Nandigram the need for setting up industries in the area "which is our misfortune' and referring to the violence spreading over 11 months last year, the Chief Minister said: "I have not come here to blame any party but to tell all including [supporters of] both the Communist Party of India [Marxist] and the Trinamool Congress to work towards peace and development. Time has come to forget what had happened over the past year,' he said. It was his second visit to Nandigram since hostilities between the BUPC and the CPI(M) ceased in November 2007. There has been sporadic violence over the past two days and security arrangements were elaborate in view of the Chief Minister's visit. "We have learnt our lesson [from the Nandigram experience] and industries will only be set up where the local people are agreeable,' Mr. Bhattacharjee said, denying reports attributed to the Trinamool Congress-led Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh [Resistance against Eviction from Land] Committee (BUPC) that the State Government will acquire land from peasants in Nandigram once the rural polls scheduled for May are over. "That will never happen,' he asserted. "We have made a mistake and will never go in for any acquisition of land in Nandigram. The chemical hub that was to have been set up here will come up at Nayachar instead and we hope will provide job opportunities even to those from here,' the Chief Minister said. "There can be no development in the State without setting up new industries. But we are also aware of taking the responsibility of those whose lands need to be acquired for the purpose. They will be provided jobs and other alternative means of earning a livelihood. Factories cannot come up with people shedding tears,' Mr Bhattacharjee said. Listing his plans for the Nandigram area, the Chief Minister said while agricultural development will be given priority, assistance will be provided to boost local trade and improve educational facilities. "The local panchayats have not been able to function during the past months of violence, development work has been held up and the people have suffered. Time has now come to work, work and work', Mr Bhattacharjee said.

  • Land for SEZ registered: Collector IIN

    Land owners who gave away their lands for SEZ were compensated at the rate of Rs three lakh an acre and family members have been assured jobs on the basis of educational qualifications Around 2,100 acres of land, valued at Rs 63 crore, had been registered for the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to be set up near Perambalur, district Collector Anil Meshram said. Speaking on the development works in the district, the Collector disclosed that land owners who had given away their lands towards SEZ were compensated at the rate of Rs three lakh an acre. Their family members have also been assured of jobs on the basis of educational qualifications. A total of 298 acres of land has been acquired near Naranamangalam for starting MRF tyre factory. The Cauvery Combined Drinking Water Scheme to facilitate 306 residential units and the town panchayats of Arumbavur and Poolambadi are being implemented at Rs 61 crore. The work would be completed by 2009. Underground drainage scheme for Perambalur municipality is to be implemented by TWAD Board at an ried out at an estimated cost of Rs 5.45 crore, which includes the extension of the main roads in Perambalur town. The department of cooperatives had plans to sanction Rs 41.80 crore as loans. So far, Rs 37.81 crore had been disbursed as agricultural loans. Under the Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy maternity assistance scheme, Rs 5.23 crore had been distributed to 6,322 pregnant women and 129 medical camps were organised under the Varumun Kappom scheme, providing medical facilities to more than 1.5 lakh persons, Collector said. Under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), an allocation of Rs 18.94 crore was set apart for implementing special schemes. School drop outs numbering 177 were re-admitted in schools and fitted into the regular scheme. Regular education for 869 differently-abled students is also under implementation. Under the unemployment assistance scheme, Rs 1.90 crore had been distributed to 11,172 youth. More than 1,400 girls had been benefited under the Moovalur Ramamirtham Ammaiyar memorial marriage assistance scheme totaling Rs 2.11 crore. estimated cost of Rs 20 crore. Five mega road projects are also being car.

  • Central panel advises Ministry against Mangalore SEZ Phase II

    The Rs. 35,000-crore Mangalore Special Economic Zone Project appears to have suffered a setback as a Central committee of experts has advised the Ministry of Environment and Forests against going ahead with Phase II of the project, according to information available on the website of the Ministry. At a meeting in New Delhi on February 27 and February 28 to discuss the issue of environment clearance for the project, the Expert Committee on Infrastructure and Miscellaneous Projects said, "The project should be restricted to only Phase I.' Phase I covers 1,800 acres of land which has been acquired by the promoters of the project. Land (2,035 acres) for Phase II is yet to be acquired. The company, Mangalore Special Economic Zone Limited, has been facing opposition from various farmers' organisations and environmentalists as far as Phase II is concerned. The committee has come to the conclusion based on the recommendations of another sub-committee constituted by the Ministry which was entrusted with the responsibility of visiting Mangalore and inspecting the villages notified for the project. The inspection committee was sent to Mangalore after the Ministry took cognisance of the protests and objections against the proposed project. At the New Delhi meeting, the committee said that in view of the protests, the company should confine itself to Phase I of the project. However, the promoters of the project have requested the Ministry to consider the whole project (Phases I and II) saying that the Environmental Impact Assessment has been done for infrastructure on 2,035 acres of land as well. Guarding against any complacency, Lawrence D'Cunha, secretary of the Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshana Samiti, said, "This is only the first step towards victory. We are going to scale up our agitation and not relent until our lands are de-notified.' The samiti represents the four villages of Permude, Thenka Ekkaru, Delantha Bettu and Kuthethoor which have been notified for the second phase of the project.

  • Navi Mumbai SEZ in troubled waters

    The Mukesh Ambani-controlled Navi Mumbai SEZ Pvt Ltd has been charged with indulging in illegal land-filling activity by the tehsildar of the Panvel taluka.

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