Goa

  • 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that were forwarded by the state but yet to come before the BoA, Pillai said, the Centre has decided to treat them as "withdrawn'.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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Loaves and fishes

    It should not come as any surprise to Goans that our fishing trawlers are returning almost empty or with very little catch, pushing the prices of fish to the sky. The resources of fish in the sea are not infinite, if the rate of harvesting fish exceeds the natural rate of renewal. Overfishing has its inevitable consequences

  • BJP men gherao PWD officials over water scarcity in Margao

    With many a Margao household receiving drinking water only in trickles, the BJP activists of the city unit on Wednesday gheraoed PWD officials and demanded explanation for the water scarcity. Assistant Engineer, Vijay Kudchadkar attributed the water scarcity in some parts of the city to the ongoing pump replacement work at the Selaulim Dam. He, however, assured the delegation that water supply to the City would stabilise within two days as the work of pump replacement is almost completed. Led by BJP leader Sharmad Raiturcar, the BJP activists, including some women, demanded to know why work on the replacement was carried out without issuing any notice to the water consumers. He pointed out that a notice was inserted in the newspapers around February 15 and sought to know whether work was on for the last fortnight. "Is there any accountability for the PWD officials. How come you suddenly carried out a shut down', he questioned. Raiturcar claimed that many a household in Comba, Khareband and Aquem in the Chief Minister's constituency had to go without water for the last two days. He also sought to know whether household connections would be issued to households with PWD officials disconnecting the public water taps. Accusing the present Government for being insensitive to the common man, Raiturcar threatened to intensify the agitation if the situation fails to improve immediately. Assistant Engineer, Kudchadkar told the BJP activists that two of the damaged pumps are being replaced and attributed the delay to the company's delay in supplying the pumps.

  • Margao's door-to-door collection comes to halt for want of labourers

    Door-to-door collection of waste from hotels, besides residential houses came to an abrupt halt in the Commercial Capital in the last two days for want of labourers.

  • Wake up, before it is too late!

    Over twenty years ago, Goa enjoyed the peak of its fishing industry.

  • Govt vows to protect agricultural land

    Finance Minister Dayanand Narvekar has asserted that agricultural land in the State too shall be protected on the lines of ban on sale of land to foreigners.

  • Bio-medical waste disposal: government to file affidavit

    On not being satisfied with the present arrangement on disposal of bio-medical waste, the High Court has asked the government to file an affidavit on the matter.

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