Monday, February 05, 2007

Elections play spoil sport for SE

NEW DELHI: Assembly elections in three states may delay fresh clearances
to the politically sensitive Special Economic Zones, though 41 of them
including those promoted by Tata, Infosys and Wipro were up for
notification with potential investment of Rs 40,000 crore.

"Any decision to allow more SEZs can be taken only after the completion
of election process in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur," highly placed
sources told the media.

They said with the politicisation of the SEZs the government would not
like to give a handle to the opposition parties.

Sources said the next meeting of eGoM may not take place before middle
of March, by when the elections would be completed.

The empowered Group of Ministers headed by External Affairs Minister
Pranab Mukherjee met on January 22 and decided to keep in abeyance,
fresh clearances till critical issues like land and rehabilitation are

The Rural Development Ministry is understood to be ready with a Cabinet
note on the rehabilitation policy, which may include jobs to the
displaced farmers.

The delay in clearances has angered many of the foreign investors, who
are turning to the government seeking a clarity on the SEZ muddle.
"Yes, they are asking questions as to what they should do as many of
them had already recruited hundreds of staff who are now sitting idle,"
officials said.

These 41 cases had already acquired land, fulfilled all the criteria,
including no-objection from state authorities down to the tehsil level,
and were about to be notified.

The total investments in these zones would have been in excess of Rs
40,000 crore, most of which the promoters had tied up.

According to estimates by the Commerce Ministry, the combined investment
in 63 SEZs that have been notified and 41 that are stuck at the last
stage would be a whopping Rs 1,00,000 crore.

The freeze in fresh cases has put off many big foreign investors,
especially from Singapore and Japan, who were about to take a plunge in
the Indian SEZs space.,curpg-2.cms


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