Thursday, April 05, 2007

eGoM may clear 60 SEZ proposals at today’s meet


NEW DELHI: The empowered group of ministers (eGoM) on SEZs will meet on
Thursday to put an end to the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the
SEZ policy. The eGoM, headed by foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, is
likely to give a go-ahead to about 60 proposals cleared by the law
ministry that are waiting for notification. It is also expected to put a
ceiling on the size of SEZs and place sectoral caps.

In its last meeting on January 22, the eGoM had put a freeze on fresh
approvals and notification of SEZs. While the move followed violent
protests in different parts of the country over forcible land
acquisition by states, even proposals which had land and had been
formally approved by the board of approval for SEZs were put on hold.

The eGoM is expected to lift the freeze on about 60 SEZ proposals which
have been cleared by the law ministry. Twenty more proposals, which have
cleared all formalities after obtaining land including getting a map, a
no-encumbrance certificate from states and an all-clear certificate from
the development commissioners, might also be given the green light,
sources said.Sources said a decision on lifting the freeze on fresh
approvals will be taken after the new rehabilitation package is put in

In order to prevent situations like the Nandigram flare-up, the eGoM may
fix a ceiling between 1,000 and 1,500 hectares on all SEZs. The minimum
prescribed area of 1,000 hectares for multi-product SEZs may be brought
down to 400 hectares. The move, if implemented, will affect a number of
planned projects including Posco's steel SEZ in Orissa and Reliance
Group's Maha-Mumbai SEZ in Maharashtra.

The eGoM will also consider placing sectoral caps on SEZs. Sources said
a cap was likely to be placed on IT SEZs mushrooming all over the
country. A decision on whether the processing area of SEZs is to be
increased will also be taken by the eGoM.

According to officials, the eGoM may also decide to do away with all
in-principle clearances and rule that only developers with land should
apply for a formal approval for building SEZs.


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