Objection to single SEZ status for SmartCity

Efforts to get the entire 246 acres of the proposed SmartCity Kochi project notified as a single Special Economic Zone (SEZ) gathered momentum with an official from the Department of Revenue under the Union Ministry of Finance visiting the project site on Friday morning.

The field visit based on SmartCity Kochi’s proposal for a single SEZ was carried out by Additional Director General of Export Promotion Vivek Ranjan. The visiting official was accompanied by a State delegation led by Principal IT Secretary P.H. Kurian.

Objection

The visit comes in the wake of objection raised by the Department of Revenue in granting a single SEZ to SmartCity Kochi saying that a waterbody runs through the project site.

“The Union Commerce Ministry was in favour of granting a single SEZ and strongly recommended it as well. But it was the Department of Revenue that raised the objection,” Baju George, managing director, SmartCity (India), told The Hindu over phone from Dubai.

He said the department’s objection was on the ground that the waterbody facilitated trespassing into the SEZ designated area making it vulnerable to theft.

However, it was pointed out that the project was an IT-specific SEZ, which dealt with knowledge products, ruling out the scope for theft of physical products, Mr. George said.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had also taken up the matter with the Union Finance Ministry. Apart from writing a letter, the Chief Minister also spoke to the Finance Minister on the issue a couple of days ago, Mr. George said.

Hopeful

The Chief Minister reportedly pointed out that Kerala has 40-odd rivers and backwaters and getting a piece of land devoid of at least a stream was almost impossible.

Mr. George was hopeful of a positive outcome from the field visit resulting in a favourable decision at the next meeting of the Board of Approval of SEZ to be held next month.

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