Saturday, January 20, 2007

EGoM to take up SEZ land acquisition


NEW DELHI: The government will consider imposition of sector-wise
ceiling on special economic zones (SEZ) once 100 SEZs are notified,
commerce & industry minister Kamal Nath said on Friday.

As of now, the government has notified 63 SEZs. No new SEZ has been
approved since October and the last two meetings of the board of
approval (BoA) were cancelled due to growing protests over land
acquisition, especially in West Bengal. If the BoA had gone ahead with
its original schedule, the number of notified SEZs would have touched
100 by now.

Mr Kamal Nath said the empowered group of ministers (eGoM) on SEZs,
headed by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, would look into
land acquisition issues at its meeting next week. Priority is being
given to land acquisition and rehabilitation of farmers in view of the
political sensitivity of the issue. Land acquisition is not an SEZ issue
as state governments acquire land for other projects too, the minister

The eGoM would consider sector-wise ceiling on SEZs once the total
number of notified SEZs touches 100, Mr Kamal Nath said while speaking
to the media at a seminar organised by CII here. The eGoM, in its
meeting in August, had considered imposing a ceiling of 150 on total
approvals but gave up the idea and planned to hold a review meeting
after 75 SEZs were notified or after five months, whichever happened

A separate proposal to restrict the number of SEZs in the IT sector was
also discussed since the segment formed the largest number. The
rehabilitation package proposed by the rural development ministry would
be the focus of the next eGoM meeting as the government is keen to put
in place an acceptable package.

Following strong political opposition and intervention from Congress
president Sonia Gandhi, the government has already put fresh SEZ
approvals on hold. Next week’s eGoM meeting is likely to chart a course
for going ahead with the process without affecting livelihood of farmers.


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