Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Wait may be over for new SEZ plans



NEW DELHI: The wait is over for developers of special economic zones
(SEZ) who submitted their proposals to the government after April 6.
After the temporary freeze on approvals was lifted, April 6 was the
informal cut-off date for taking up pending proposals for consideration.
Since there was a huge backlog of pending projects, the government was
focusing on them rather than taking up new ones.

More than a 100 proposals have been approved after the freeze was lifted
and the board of approvals (BoA) is ready to take up proposals submitted
after the cut-off date.

Speaking to ET, commerce ministry officials said the backlog of pending
proposals that have state government approvals have almost all been
taken care of. Nothing was preventing the government from taking up new
proposals, provided they was accompanied by state government
certification. "There was never a ban on new applications. It was just
felt that the older proposals should be dealt with first," an official

The government had frozen approval and notification of SEZs on January
22 this year following widespread protests all over the country,
especially in Nandigram (West Bengal), over acquisition of land by
states. The freeze was lifted on April 6 by the EGoM which decided to
ban coercive acquisition by states. The BoA meet, held on June 22, ruled
that if even one farmer objected to acquisition of land, the state could
not acquire the land for building SEZs.

The BoA reiterated that double crop land in excess of 10% of the total
area cannot be acquired for building SEZs, and state governments should
not give their consent to such proposals.

Interestingly, there are as many as 170 proposals that are awaiting the
state government's nod. Earlier, such proposals would be taken up by the
BoA subject to the condition that states gave their nod within six
months of the approval.However, two months ago, the BoA decided to take
up proposals for consideration only if they were backed by state approvals.



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