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Maharashtra government denotifies Raigad SEZ

Rohit Chandavarkar, Mumbai, The Economic Times (Mumbai edition) | The Hindu | The Asian Age | Deccan Chronicle | Hindustan Times (Mumbai edition) | The Times of India

February 19, 2011

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The Maharashtra government announced de-notification of the Maha-Mumbai Special Economic Zone, or MSEZ, in Raigad district on Friday. The state government had earlier stayed the ongoing land acquisition by Reliance Industries (RIL). RIL had proposed to develop the SEZ on 25,000 acres of land. After getting permission from the Raigad district collector, the company had privately acquired 1,000 acres and paid Rs 3-7 lakh per acre to the landholders.

The land acquisition in the area met with huge resistance from local farmers and non-governmental organisations. The state government had also stated that it would not acquire land for this SEZ till the local population was convinced. The government appointed a state run agency to conduct a social impact assessment so that the MSEZ rehabilitation package could be changed if there was a need. According to reports, MSEZ was to invest nearly Rs 35,000 crore for development of basic infrastructure and it was expected to generate a total of 20 lakh jobs. The State government issued a press release on Friday to announce that the SEZ has been de-notified. However, it was not clear whether the land already acquired would be handed back to the farmers.

Described as India’s biggest SEZ, RIL was to acquire the estimated land in 45 villages - 24 in Pen, 20 in Uran and one in Panvel tehsil of Raigad district. The MSEZ had claimed that as it was not acquiring any public area in the villages known as “gaothan” there would be absolutely no displacement. The SEZ had also committed to spend Rs 90 crore - Rs 2 crore per village - for upgrading civic and social infrastructure in the gaothans. According to government sources, MSEZ had offered up to Rs 5 lakh per acre for unproductive land and Rs 10 lakh for paddy land. Further, it had prepared a training and employment programme and was offering sustenance allowance to one person in every project-affected family.

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