- Final nod : 237
- Notified : 63
- In principle : 160
New Delhi, Jan. 22: The Centre will proceed with only 63 notified special economic zones for the time being, while 334 projects in various stages of approval will be put on hold until the issues raised by the Left are sorted out.
The temporary freeze will apply to eight projects in Bengal that have received in-principle approval. Among them are two zones proposed by the Salim Group, one of which is slated to come up at Nandigram, which is still restive. ( )
The Centre is also considering a proposal to set minimum export targets for SEZs. Under the existing policy, such zones have to be net foreign exchange earners but they are under no obligation to meet minimum export requirements.
The tentative decisions emerged after an “inconclusive” meeting of the empowered group of ministers today.
Commerce minister Kamal Nath said: “The meeting was inconclusive as external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee had to attend another meeting. The group will meet again after a week or 10 days.”
Commerce secretary G.K. Pillai added that “the issues raised by the Left parties and the Opposition run into 100-odd pages and could not be fully discussed at the short meeting”.
Besides, “the relief and rehabilitation package for displaced farmers is being drawn up separately by the ministry for rural development and it would be moving a note for cabinet approval soon”. The package is expected to be cleared in a month.
Export commitments have been apparently mooted to address fears that SEZs may not fulfil the basic objective of promoting exports and focus on real estate business. “We could impose an export guarantee of up to 50 per cent of the total production,” Pillai said.
Now only export processing zones have export guarantees, which are monitored to avert diversion to the domestic tariff area.