Navi Mumbai SEZ Makes Last-ditch Move To Save Projects From Chopping Block

Navi Mumbai SEZ Makes Last-ditch Move To Save Projects From Chopping Block

The government may finally be preparing to draw the curtains on eight long-pending special economic zone proposals by Navi Mumbai SEZ Pvt Ltd — promoted by Reliance Industries Ltd Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani and his associate Anand Jain —, but the developer is not yet ready to call it quits.

The Development Commissioner (DC) of the Navi Mumbai Zone has recommended to the Board of Approval for SEZs, which will meet on July 3, not to extend the formal approvals any further as the company has not given any new reason for not moving forward on the projects.

“State government recommendations for extending the formal approvals for most of the proposed SEZs have also not been furnished. It is not possible to grant extensions in the absence of State recommendation,” a Commerce Ministry official told BusinessLine.

The company, however, is positive that the Maharashtra Government would send its recommendation on time. “We have sought extension (for the SEZ projects). The BoA is awaiting recommendation from the Maharashtra government, which will be sent in a day or two. This is as per the BoA process,” a spokesperson from Navi Mumbai SEZ Ltd stated in response to a query.

The eight SEZs which have not received recommendation for extension of their formal approvals by the DC include an ambitious multi-product SEZ in Dronagiri, two multi-services SEZs in Kalamboli and Ulwe, a gems & jewellery SEZ at Ulwe and four IT/ITES SEZs at Kalamboli and Ulwe.

Most of the SEZs were formally approved as early as 2007 and have received more than seven extensions.

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The Development Commissioner, in a submission to the BoA, pointed out that in case of certain SEZs, including the multi-product and multi-services zones, the formal approvals had expired early last year and Navi Mumbai had not sought extension beyond early 2017.

In its application for extension (till early 2017), the developer stated that although the SEZs are ready, they are not able to find any units mainly because the Maharashtra government has not enacted the State SEZ Act.

No progress

“The developer has given the same reason in the past. It is apparent that the matter is not progressing any further inspite of considerable loss of time and stalemate continues,” the DC stated in the submission adding that further extension of formal approval was not being recommended.

The BoA is the top decision making body for SEZs, which is headed by the Commerce Secretary and is represented by officials from a number of Ministries and Departments including Revenue, Home, Law, Urban Development, DIPP and State governments concerned.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the three biggest developers — Navi Mumbai SEZ Private Ltd, Khed Economic Infrastructure Private Ltd (KEIPL) and IndiaBulls Infrastructure India Ltd — in August last year to finalise their project plans and begin work within three months. An estimated 5,300 hectares of land is lying locked in several SEZs in Maharashtra.

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