Friday, January 12, 2007

Fresh SEZs after land survey

* Move follows Kamal Nath’s meeting with Sonia Gandhi * PM keen on rehab
policy first


NEW DELHI, JAN 11: The government has decided not to approve any fresh
proposals for special economic zones and also hold back clearances for
SEZs facing problems over land acquisition.
In a letter to state chief ministers earlier this week, commerce and
industry minister Kamal Nath has sought details of land available for
acquisition. Government sources said until states provided the required
information, SEZ approvals would halt.

The decision to put SEZ approvals in the backburner follows a meeting
the commerce minister had with Congress president Sonia Gandhi on

Both the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi are also keen to put in place a
rehabilitation policy first that clearly specifies realistic
compensation packages for displaced farmers. The PM had on Monday said
the policy would be ready in three months. In fact, the Board of
Approval (BoA) for SEZs postponed its scheduled meeting on January 10 in
this backdrop.

This decision may impact big-ticket SEZ proposals, including that of the
Tata Group, which plans a 10-million tonne steel plant over 1,173
hectares in Gopalpur, Orissa and of Gremach Infrastructure, planning a
port-based, multi-product SEZ over 1,012 hectares at Digha in West Bengal.

Waiting List
• Tata Group’s planned 10-mt steel plant over 1,173 ha in Orissa;
Gremach’s planned multi-product SEZ over 1,012 ha in West Bengal
• Proposals seeking extension of area are Unitech in
Maharashtra, Sriram Properties & Infrastructure in Tamil Nadu and GEPL
Mundhra in Gujarat

The sources said the taking up of SEZ proposals of companies that are
either seeking extension of area or where issues relating to a
rehabilitation package are to be addressed, would definitely be deferred
by the BoA in its January 19 meeting.

There are four proposals seeking extension of area, including that of
Unitech in Maharashtra, Sriram Properties & Infrastructure in Tamil Nadu
and GEPL Mundhra in Gujarat.

Of the 52 proposals to be taken up on January 19, ten are from West
Bengal alone, including the 1,012-hectare pharma, biotech and chemical
SEZ at Midnapur by Ramky Infrastructure, and two from DLF. These would
also face tough screening given the turmoil witnessed by the state in
Nandigram, where Indonesia’s Salim group was planning a mega chemical SEZ.

When contacted, commerce ministry officials said formal approvals would
be given only to proposals where land had already been acquired.


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