Real estate giants and multinational firms which bought hundreds of acres of land in Haryana to set up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) but could not do so, have been given another chance to put it to use.
The state government has decided to denotify such SEZs and allow the blocked land to be used for other purposes. As a result, nearly two dozen projects — many of them in the lucrative real estate markets of Gurgaon and Faridabad — are expected to be converted into residential and commercial properties.
Haryana had over the years notified 35 SEZs, of which only six have so far been set up. The state government says another seven are likely to be completed, and the remaining 22 are being denotified and will be allowed change of land use.
Although most of the 35 SEZs were notified to focus on information technology and IT-enabled services, many of them were promoted by real estate giants who will now benefit from a change in land use. Documents accessed by The Indian Express show that the largest number of these SEZs were notified between April 2007 and October 2009.
The state government had acquired an estimated 1,452 acres of land from farmers, much of it in Gurgaon and Faridabad, for the 35 projects.
But in May this year, the state cabinet approved the change of land use after it was found that promoters of a large number of SEZs were reluctant to go ahead with their projects.
Analysts said promoters of these projects were finding them financially unviable after the Central government amended the SEZ policy and introduced Minimum Alternate Tax for them in 2010-11. They were said to be looking for a bailout package and state government sources said many of these promoters had begun making enquiries to get change of land use for the SEZ land in their possession.
Haryana Industries Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala, however, claimed the land use change would still benefit the state.
“Haryana is one state in the country where a maximum number of SEZs have been set up. Six have already been set up, while seven SEZs are under implementation. The remaining shall be granted change of land use,” he told The Indian Express.
“The barren land was as such not generating anything for us. I called a meeting of all SEZ promoters and told them that they should either come up with the SEZs or get the land use converted. This change will not only generate industry but also bring in lots of employment to the state,” he said.