Land acquired for SEZs in Maharashtra to be now turned into industrial hubs


Author(s):
Anupam Chakravartty, downtoearth
Issue Date:
2013-1-4

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.

Developers favoured

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.

 

 

Vedanta’s mining activities in Orissa being financed by public funds


OERC whip on Vedanta
Bhubaneswar : 14/October/2012

The Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) was found illegally sourcing power from Group Company, Sterlite Energy Limited (SEL) causing losses to the tune of Rs 15crores to the Reliance Infra-owned licensed distribution company WESCO in Odisha.


Holding the activities of VAL as “illegal”, the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) has directed the Vedanta to cough up the amount due to the DISCOM.

Importantly, the Commission, while disposing off the case, has defined the terms “Open Access’ and “deemed licensee” in a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) which will have far reaching ramifications.

The Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) aluminum manufacturing unit at Jharsuguda in Odisha which has been notified as a SEZ was sourcing power directly form Group company SEL, Independent Power Plant (IPP) located adjacent to the SEZ through a dedicated 400 KV double circuit transmission line.

Claiming that the VAL-SEZ’s sourcing power from SEL-IPP amounts to Open Access drawl of power, the WESCO, which is the sole licensee for power distribution in the area, demanded cross subsidy surcharge on the quantum of power availed by VAL-SEZ.

The Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Limited (OPTCL), the sole licensee for transmission business, also raised objection to the SEL-IPP’s “illegal” laying of 400 KV line in their areas of operation. GRIDCO, the sole bulk power supplier, and the SLDC also become party to the case protesting against these activities of Vedanta.

Interestingly, when the OERC construed that the VAL-SEZ’s sourcing of power is Open Access drawl of power and directed the Vedanta to pay the cross-subsidy surcharge to WESCO, Vedanta came before the Commission with two applications seeking approval for PPA between VAL-SEZ and SEL-IPP, and license for VAL –SEZ to carryout distribution business inside the SEZ area.

Vedanta claimed that the SEZ notification has given the promoter the status of deemed licensee. “So, according distribution licensee by the OERC is only a formality.”

It claimed that there is no illegality in VAL-SEZ directly sourcing power from SEL-IPP and it does not amount to Open Access drawl of power. Ridiculously, Vedanta put forth that the individual units of the aluminium plant such as pot lines, carbon plant, cast house etc. are individual consumers of power.

The three-member Commission, comprising Chairman SP Nanda, members B K Mishra and S.P.Swain, rejected the applications of Vedanta and directed the company to pay the cross subsidy surcharge to the WESCO.

“Consequent upon the rejection of this application the applicant is be treated asconsumer of WESCO, the existing DISCOM of the area. As a result M/s. VAL-SEZhas to pay cross-subsidy surcharge to WESCO for Open Access drawl of power from M/s. SEL”, observed the OERC.

While passing the order, last week, the OERC has also made some  adverse remarks about the company

“It has been stated earlier that much before the application for PPA with M/s. SEL and the present application for grant of distribution license were filed, the applicant has been enjoying power in an illegal and unauthorized manner from M/s. SEL through a 400 KV double circuit transmission line.”

Stating that the present application for grant of distribution license is a ploy by which the consumer wants to escape from payment of open access charges, the Commission has observed that this is a matter where the substance should prevail over form – the applicant cannot take shelter under a web of technicalities to subvert the purpose of the Act.

“This is not a genuine application for taking a distribution license for giving supply of electricity to genuine consumers in a particular area to increase competition and efficiency. This is an attempt to avoid payment of open access charges for unauthorized drawl of power from M/s. SEL for a number of years”, remarked the Commission

 

Bowing to local opposition, Maharashtra government cancels four SEZs including Mahindra and Mahindra’s #goodnews


 

Mahindra Group Logo

Mahindra Group Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

30 JUL, 2012,, ET

 

MUMBAI: Bowing to opposition from the local communities, Maharashtra government today cancelled four proposed Special Economic Zones(SEZs).

 

The decision was taken at a meeting between Industries Minister Narayan Rane and board members of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation here.

 

“We have cancelled four SEZs, which were facing strong opposition from the locals,” Rane told reporters later.

 

Mahindra and Mahindra SEZ was to come up on 3,000 thousand hectares in Mawal in Pune districtIndia Bulls SEZ was to come up on 1,936 hectares at Ranjankhar, Raigad district. Videocon Realty and Infrastructure SEZs were to come up at Gandheli, Aurangabad and at Pune‘s Wagholi, on areas of 2,763 and 1,000 hectares respectively.

 

“The locals, especially the farmers, were strongly against these SEZs. At Gandheli, police even had to lathicharge (to disperse the protests),” said Rane.

 

The senior Congress Minister also said that most of these lands were under irrigation, which was another reason. “We (MIDC) have adopted a policy wherein the land under irrigation is not acquired for the industrial purpose.

 

Proposal to ban SEZ on tribal land, farms


English: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodha...

English: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the ITC Green Centre in Gurgaon, outside of New Delhi. The ITC Green Centre is the world’s largest “Platinum Rated” green office building. Department photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BASANT KUMAR MOHANTY, Telegraph

New Delhi, June 26: A ban has been proposed on the setting up of special economic zones (SEZ) on land in tribal areas and agricultural land.

A meeting today between rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and unofficial members of the National Council of Land Reforms (NCLR) also suggested that homeless rural people should be given homestead land.

These issues will be on the agenda at a full meeting of the NCLR headed by the Prime Minister. The council members include five cabinet ministers, chief ministers of 10 states, including Bengal, and a few unofficial members who are experts on land reforms.

The council, set up in January 2008, has never met in four years. It is supposed to lay down guidelines on land reforms based on the recommendations of the committee on state agrarian relations and unfinished task of land reforms, headed by Ramesh

The committee has studied inequality in availability of land and its impact on the economic condition of people. It submitted its report in September 2009.

The NCLR and the committee were set up after the Ekata Parishad, an organisation working for land reforms, organised a march by landless people in January 2008.

P.V. Rajagopal, the parishad president and an NCLR member, claimed the Centre was not giving desired importance to land reforms.

“The unofficial members of the NCLR had a meeting with the rural development minister today. But it is unclear when the full NCLR meeting will be held. The government is dragging its feet on the issue of land reforms because corporate houses are demanding land,” he claimed.

The meeting finalised a few issues for discussion at the full council meeting, including a proposal to ban SEZs in scheduled areas and areas predominantly inhabited by tribal people, and restriction on transfer of common property and agricultural land in other areas for such zones.

Massive transfers of agricultural and forest land for industrial, mining or infrastructure projects have led to rural unrest and distress migration.

According to the report of the committee on state agrarian relations, about 7,50,000 acres have been transferred for mining and 2,50,000 acres for industrial purposes in the last two decades.

SEZs have mostly focused on prime agricultural land, causing misery to poor peasants, the report said. Large chunks of land have been degraded because of industrial waste and effluents. Unplanned urbanisation has frequently resulted in illegal grabbing of significant chunks of agricultural and common land.

“We have discussed the major issues on land reforms. I have asked the unofficial members to give their feedback by Sunday. Once I get their comments, they would be submitted to the Prime Minister for further discussion in the NCLR meeting,” Ramesh said.