The decade-old Mangalore Special Economic Zone (MSEZ) Ltd. — a special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up to develop a multiproduct coastal SEZ in Mangalore — has been mired in controversy. Creating the infrastructure in the SEZ has overrun its time limit by six months, said S.T. Karkera, General Manager (Land Acquisition, Relief and Rehabilitation, Administration and Human Resources).

Infrastructure should have been complete by now but work is dragging on because of land requirements. Getting people to vacate land took five years, followed by rehabilitation. “By (this year’s) May end, we are planning to complete our infrastructure work,” he said. Two of the three companies, which have committed to set shop in SEZ, will commission their units in May.

MSEZ has 2,380 acres of land in its possession in Phase I, which is sector-specific for petroleum and petrochemicals. Residents of 70 to 80 houses are yet to vacate. “It is all a hindrance. The court cases are still going on… that is slowing down (the project),” he said.

MSEZ has trained 800 members of the project displaced families (PDF), of whom 268 have got jobs at MRPL, OMPL and SEZ, and 411 students are being trained in Karnataka Polytechnic, he said.

The denotification of 2,000 acres of land for Phase II of the SEZ by the State government last year prevented it from getting the “multiproduct” tag, limiting it to petroleum and petrochemicals. “The denotified land was for the general purpose SEZ. It was a setback to employment and regional development,” Mr. Karkera said.

The job-generating industry in Phase II are textiles, information and technology, biotechnology, automobile, hospitality and other ancillaries. The industries would have set off a chain reaction that would have created jobs. For instance, textiles would have led to fibre, garments and tailoring units, he said.

“Phase II is a must for us if this region has to develop. It would have been labour-intensive. It would have employed approximately 1.5 lakh people,” he said. Currently, it has a “little less potential for employment”, said Mr. Karkera.

The affected 40 to 50 families have intra-family court cases. Meanwhile, Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board has arranged for a price advisory meeting and now, the polls have intervened.

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