New industrial policy follows denotification of SEZ land after promoters backed out of 16 deals
Land acquired for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Maharashtra will be turned into integrated industrial areas (IIAs), according to a new industrial policy announced by Maharashtra government. While land rights activists have slammed the government for the move which is likely to benefit real estate developers in the state, the policy will be giving tax incentives to micro and small manufacturing enterprises (MSME) in the state. Further, the new industrial policy envisages Ultra Mega Industrial Areas, attracting an investment of Rs 1500 crore each.
On Wednesday, the state Cabinet agreed on the industrial policy, which was delayed by one year. According to state industries secretary, Manu Kumar Srivastava, about 124 SEZs planned in the state over 23,000 hectares have now being denotified. Meanwhile, in the last one year, owing to the global recession and heavy taxes, 16 SEZ developers backed out from their deals, causing the government a loss of Rs 27,000 crore. The policy has called for the creation of the IIAs in which promoters of now de-notified special economic zones (SEZs) would have to put 60 per cent for industrial purpose, 30 per cent for residential and 10 per cent for commercial purposes.
In a statement issued to the media, state industries minister Narayan Rane said that the government is giving developers a chance to de-notify their SEZs and build IIAs. “This will allow developers to use 60 per cent land within the SEZ area for industrial purpose and 40 per cent land for non-industrial purpose, which includes building townships and developing social infrastructure such as schools and hospitals,” Rane said.
The move has not gone down well with activists and state opposition parties, including Nationalist Congress Party. While political parties have labelled the industrial policy as “housing” policy, accusing the government for favouring real estate developers, what activists feared earlier during the anti-SEZ stir in the state has turned out to be true. “The land forcibly acquired or purchased from farmers will now be turned into real estate by the private developers,” said the Convenor of the Action Committee against Globalisation, Ulka Mahajan, from Raigad district in Maharashtra which witnessed large-scale protests against land acquisition for SEZ.
The new policy aims to target investments worth Rs 5 lakh crore, twice the projected amount in the previous policy of 2006. Interestingly, the state government is not looking at foreign investment or big investments from foreign companies due to the global economic slowdown. “Therefore, we have decided to boost the local MSME,” adds Srivastava. The policy now offers concessions in value added tax (VAT) for the sector. MSMEs proposed in the backward districts of Maharashtra, which has been classified as C, D and D+ category on the human development index, will get subsidy of 0.75 paise to Re 1 on every unit of power consumed by them.