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SEZs await definition of vacant land

Monday, August 18, 2008

The fate of Essars steel SEZ in Gujarat is dependent on the clarification of vacant land phrase. Lack of a clear definition with regard to special economic zones (SEZs) is raising a number of issues and the authorities are now looking to come up with a clean and definitive interpretation of vacant land.

As per the norms, an SEZ can only be erected on a land, which was earlier vacant. However, since the definition of 'vacant' is not clear, it has led to some contentious issues. The fate of Essar’s steel SEZ in Gujarat is now dependent on the clarification of vacant land phrase.

The SEZ was being built on some pre-existing structures. However, the commerce department and attorney general had given a go ahead to the SEZ, considering the fact that no economic activity was going on at the land. The finance ministry however was not convinced and recommended stripping the entity of its SEZ status, saying that SEZ should be raise on a completely vacant land.

The empowered group of ministers on the SEZ had deferred this issue in the last meeting. In the forthcoming meeting, the group is likely to take up the issue and come up with a concrete definition of vacant land. This will clear the row of Essars SEZ and prevent any such issue to arise in future.

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