Thursday, January 3, 2008

SEZs in Goa

Proposal to scrap SEZs in Goa

Panaji, Dec. 30 (PTI): A task force headed by chief minister Digamber Kamat today recommended scrapping special economic zones in Goa, terming them “detrimental to the overall interest” of the state.

“The intention of permitting SEZs is to reap the benefits of industrialisation and consequent employment generation. These can be served without SEZs (also) if incentives are extended to incoming industries,” architect Charles Correa, the task force vice-chairman, said while reading out the body’s resolution.

“The required industrial development can be achieved if the government focuses on providing excellent infrastructure in terms of roads, water and power to the incoming industrial units,” he said.

The task force took into account growing anti-SEZ sentiments in Goa. However, it was silent on the Rajiv Gandhi Habitat Project, which has been opposed by local residents who allege that it is a “real estate scam”.

Centre throws spanner in Goa move to scrap SEZs

New Delhi, Jan. 2: The future of special economic zones in Goa hangs in balance with the Centre saying states cannot denotify SEZs and the Digambar Kamat government insisting that it would scrap them.

“There is no provision under law (for states) to recommend de-notification. They have no locus standi to withdraw the notifications to the SEZs. We at the Board of Approvals will not denotify the SEZs either,” commerce secretary Gopal Pillai said.

But chief minister Kamat told The Telegraph he was “writing a letter to the Centre to denotify the SEZs”.

He said the state government would go ahead with its decision to scrap all 15 SEZs, of which three have been notified and the rest are at different stages of approval.

“We do not have any communication from the Centre on this. We will go ahead with our decision to scrap SEZs,” the Congress chief minister said this evening.

Pillai said there should be no problem cancelling projects that had not been notified yet as the Centre would like to honour the sentiments of the state. Those projects could be shifted to another state, he hinted.

But SEZs that have been notified have become legal entities and cannot be de-notified, the commerce secretary said. The three SEZs — Cipla’s Meditab Specialities, Peninsula Pharma Research Centre and K Raheja Corp — have already acquired land.

The promoters of the three notified SEZs may have to be compensated if Goa goes ahead with its decision — the first by any state government to abandon all SEZs.

Pillai said: “Compensation is an issue that has to be decided between the developer and the state. We have nothing to do with it.

“Duty-free equipment has also started coming in. In what manner will the state government compensate the developers?”

Cipla has started work and pumped in about Rs 500 crore, sources said.

Kamat, however, said: “That’s the amount being claimed to have been spent by the company.”

Asked about possible legal battles over compensation, the chief minister said: “We will see when that happens. I am not against SEZs. It is the people of Goa who are against SEZs and I have to go by their choice.”

The Goa government had announced its decision on December 31 following protests by political parties, including the Congress and the Opposition BJP, against the tax-free industrial zones.

There have been protests against SEZs in several other states, including Bengal, Maharashtra and Haryana.

Bengal clearances

Twenty-eight SEZs, including three in Bengal, were approved today. The Bengal projects are being promoted by Capstone Developers Pvt Ltd, Bengal Shriram Hi-tech City Pvt Ltd and Orion IT Park Pvt Ltd.