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16 promoters drop SEZ proposals in Maharashtra

Prafulla Marpakwar, Mumbai, The Times of India

January 07, 2011

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In a huge investment setback for Maharashtra, 16 developers who had applied to set up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across the state have dropped the proposals, leading to a loss of over Rs 27,000 crore and 3.5 lakh jobs in the IT and power sectors. `This is the biggest ever comedown for Maharashtra since we always claim that we are the ultimate destination for industrial development,'' a senior industries department official said on Thursday.

"No doubt we hold the top position in foreign direct investment but when it comes to SEZs, neighbouring Gujarat has surpassed us.'' All the 16 proposals were approved by the SEZ Board of Approval between 2007 and 2009. ``However, last year some developers submitted withdrawal applications and most of the proposals were granted permission for withdrawal,'' said the official. ``In fact, some of the SEZs were at different stages of progress.''

The developers told the Board that they had dropped the idea of the SEZs because of ongoing uncertainties in the global economy, heavy taxes under the proposed direct tax code and, above all, unprecedented recession in the IT sector. `` The Wardha power company, which had proposed to set up a Rs 2200-crore 500 MW power plant at Chandrapur, Royal Palms, Raheja Universal, Sanvo Resorts , L&T (all in Mumbai and Thane) P S Kulkarni (Pune) and Glenmark (Aurangabad ) have all withdrawn ,'' said the official. `Surprisingly, even the staterun MIDC, which had proposed to set up IT SEZs in Thane, Jalna and Akola and power SEZs in Raigad and Chandrapur, have dropped the proposals. MIDC had proposed to invest Rs 13,000 crore for the power SEZ at Bhadrawati in Chandrapur district.''

The official said it was unfortunate that those developers , who were in possession of the land and all the approvals had decided to abandon their plans owing to the overall recession . `` Also, a large number of SEZs, not only in the Konkan region but across the state, have failed to take off owing to agitations launched by farmers,'' he added. `` Initially , it appeared that farmers in the Konkan region were against SEZs, but now farmers from Vidarbha and Marathwada region too have refused to part with lands.''

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