SEZ developers set to land space at sick industrial units WIN-WIN CASE: PROMOTERS GET ACCESS TO PRIM
WHILE acquisition of farmland has become an uphill task for industrialists following the political storm unleashed by the Nandigram fiasco, a new window of opportunity is opening up for special economic zone (SEZ) developers. State governments and the Centre are looking at utilising the land owned by sick industrial units for developing SEZs. The move is significant since cases pertaining to liquidation of 1,254 private sector industrial units are pending at various high courts. Similar is the case with 31 central public sector units (PSUs) and 41 state PSUs. If the proposal to use land owned by these units is cleared, SEZ developers could get access to prime industrial plots cross the country. Setting the dues of these sick units would also be possible, at least partially, if the value of land –– stuck in litigation –– is unlocked, officials feel. Controversy over rehabilitation of farmers would be avoided since most of the land owned by these units is meant for industrial purposes. A recommendation to this effect was made to the commerce & indus-try ministry by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce. In its 83rd report which focuses on functioning of the SEZs, the committee made such recommendations and the ministry has forwarded the suggestion to state governments. The action taken report on the Parliamentary panel’s suggestions says that the recommendations have been ‘noted’ and forwarded to state governments. The state governments are likely to consider the suggestion favourably as many states have not been able to give their green signals to several SEZ proposals as they are not sure that the land being eyed by the developers would be given up willingly by farmers. The commerce department recently closed the books of about 100 developers who had filed their applications with the Centre but had not received a goahead from the respective state governments.The number of SEZ applications being processed by the Board of Approval (BoA) for SEZs every month has dwindled to just about 15. Officials believe that the availability of land owned by sick industrial units could partly solve the problem of availability of prime land and give a shot in the arm to the SEZ policy.