The Government should “revisit” its Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act “comprehensively” and put a ban on transfer of common property and agricultural land for its implementation, a high-level panel has recommended in its report.

Committee on State Agrarian Relations and the Unfinished Task in Land Reforms has noted that concerns of tribals and farmers remained “totally unattended” under the Act as there was no cost-benefit analysis for such projects, and also due to the absence of an upper limit fixed for land acquisition.

The report of the committee, which was set up by the Rural Development Ministry in 2007, was submitted through the ministry to the National Land Reforms Council, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, sources in the ministry said.

SEZs have been given the status of industrial townships and the state governments would declare the SEZs as industrial township areas to function as self-governing, autonomous municipal bodies under the Act, the committee noted.

“Once a SEZ is declared as an industrial township area, it will cease to be under the jurisdiction of any other local body, like municipal corporations and gram panchayats. Moreover, the SEZ developer and units would also be exempted from taxes levied by the local bodies because of its self-contained local body,” it added.

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