19 LANDED SEZS TO COMMENCE OPERATIONS ON MAY 9

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A total of 19 proposals for special economic zones (SEZ), including Reliance group’s Navi Mumbai project in Maharashtra and Suzlon’s hi-tech zone in Mangalore, which are in possession of land, will be given formal clearance by the board of approval (BoA) for SEZs in its meeting next month. The developers will then be free to complete all formalities required for notification of the zones and subsequently set up operations.

Speaking to ET, commerce ministry officials said the BoA, in its first meeting on May 9, would clear only the proposals that had earlier been given in-principle clearance and were now in possession of land. “Projects that have acquired land have to be given priority. We have, therefore, decided to first clear all such proposals,” an official said.

The 19 projects with land include Reliance group’s multi-product SEZ in Navi Mumbai spread over 1,250 hectares, two Suzlon Infrastructure’s projects consisting of hi-tech engineering products SEZ near Mangalore port spread over 486 hectares and in Udipi over 202 hectares, Vedanta’s aluminium sector-specific SEZ in Orissa spread over 347 hectares and Velankanni Info System’s 100-acre IT SEZ in Tamil Nadu.

Officials said the 350 fresh proposals pending with the BoA for clearance will be taken up in subsequent meetings. The commerce department feels the BoA should not be burdened with more than 35 proposals at a time, so it might take up to 10 meetings to consider all fresh proposals. “We plan to hold BoA meetings at a gap of 15 days. The department will firm up all dates soon,” the official said.

The board will be meeting after seven months as problems over forcible land acquisition by states had forced the government to freeze all clearances for more than two months. Till date, the BoA has formally cleared 212 proposals while in-principle approval has been given to 152.

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