‘New industrial policy provides an option on land locked in SEZs’

Feb 04 2013, 10:48 IST
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SummaryMaharashtra Industrial Development Corporation CEO Bhushan Gagrani speaks about the controversy relating to the exit route provided for Special Economic Zones in the industry policy and the state’s efforts to counter the aggression of Gujarat in attracting top industrial houses. The session was moderated by Special Correspondent Swatee Kher.

Shubhangi Khapre:SEZs were the mainstay of the last industrial policy. Where did the government fail?

BG:The SEZ subject is based on the premise of creating an entirely new entity meant to promote exports, brought to make industry more competitive. It was perceived as “anti-farmer”. Maharashtra had started 144 SEZs. In the meantime, due to opposition, the Centre introduced tax changes and imposed minimum alternate tax and dividend distribution tax on SEZ companies. Though the SEZ concept remained, it became non-viable. The question arose what to do with the land locked in SEZs, whether it can be put to good industrial use. The new industrial policy provides an option.

Shubhangi Khapre:You have vast tracts of land, why should you take agriculture land for industries?

In principle, I agree that no land under irrigation, agriculture or bagayati land should be put to industrial use. But mere farm land and waste land that gives one crop a year is not sustainable even for farmers. Wherever there were private SEZs, the companies went to the market and bought land directly from owners of such land. These were private transactions. Of the 144 SEZs, 104 are private, land bought from farmers.

P Vaidyanathan Iyer:Did the government provide land to SEZs in any SEZs?

In two: One by MIDC and one by CIDCO. In one SEZ, which required about 5,000 hectares, MIDC Act was applied to acquire the land and for that we got 26 per cent sweat equity.

P Vaidyanathan Iyer:How much land was forcibly acquired using section 4?

None in the private SEZs. Though an MIDC agreement with one company was for 5,000 hectares, 1,705 hectares has been actually acquired, and of this, 22 hectares were forcibly acquired. In Sinnar, there is no forceful acquisition.

Zeeshan Shaikh:The industry has remained focused in the quadrilateral of Mumbai-Thane-Pune and Nashik. Why has Nagpur not taken off?

A majority of industry in the state is limited to this (quadrilateral) area. Modern industries have a component of export, they require access to ports, and so hinterland becomes a difficult option. Chemical and pharma industries require proximity to creeks.

We are constantly trying to disperse the industries, with reasonable success in Kolhapur, Satara and Aurangabad. Nagpur typically is mineral-based; the textile industry has not taken off well there.

Mayura Janwalkar:Is there a particular kind of industry you are trying to promote and encourage?

The Maharashtra industrial base is diversified. We do not go sector-wise, it is more area-wise industrial development.

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