SEZs: Centre to take a re-look at land ceiling

Amid growing protests over land acquisition, the government on Wednesday indicated that it could re-visit the subject of land ceiling of 5,000 hectare for the special economic zones (SEZs) and the matter could be taken up by the Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for policy changes.

“Land issues are critical and I think the minimum size is something that needs to be looked at again definitely. You are not going to find 5,000 hectares of land area, it is a pipe dream. It is not going to happen,'' Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said at an Assocham conference on SEZs here.

The Commerce Ministry is likely approach the GoM for making changes in the ceiling in view of the changed circumstances and growing resistance over land acquisition especially that pertaining to agriculture.

Interestingly, it was the GoM that had earlier lowered the land ceiling for SEZs from 10,000 hectares to 5,000 hectares.

It has been noticed in the recent past that SEZ developers were finding it difficult to acquire even 5,000 hectares and large majority of them, including Mukesh Ambani-promoted Navi Mumbai SEZ Pvt. Ltd., continue to grapple with the problem of land acquisition. A number of SEZ developers have dropped their projects due to this.

Stating that developers should change with changing times, Mr. Khullar asked developers to look at States, besides Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh to set up tax free enclaves.

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