Court to hear developers’ plea in Goa SEZ muddle

September 7th, 2008 - 8:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Sep 7 (IANS) The controversy over special economic zones in Goa is headed for a showdown with the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court scheduled to hear Monday a bunch of petitions filed by SEZ developers against cancellation of land allotted to them.The Goa government, under public pressure, was forced to take a policy decision to scrap the mammoth SEZ projects, but the central government has refused to play ball.

The union commerce ministry has maintained that once the Board of Approvals, a nodal agency for SEZs, notified a project, the state has no powers to scrap it.

The seven SEZ promoters - Meditabh Specialities Pvt Ltd, Cipla group, Peninsular Pharma Research Ltd, Paradigm Logistic & Distributors, Planetview Mercantile Pvt Ltd, Inox Mercentile Pvt Ltd and Maxgrow - approached the high court, after the Goa Industries Development Corporation (GIDC) served notices asking them why the land allotted to them should not be withdrawn in view of the state government’s new policy.

The GIDC is the government agency through which Goa has acquired about 3.8 million square metres of land for setting up SEZs.

The high court had ordered a status quo on the issue, until the matter came up for hearing Sep 8.

The allegedly hasty manner in which large chunks of land were allotted to industrial houses had led to numerous civic campaigns and a series of public demonstrations demanding that the government scrap the SEZ policy.

It forced the Digambar Kamat-led government to take a public stance against SEZ. The government said on the floor of the assembly during its recently concluded session that “in public interest, the government has taken a policy decision not to permit any SEZ in Goa.”

But organisations like the Goa Bachao Abhiyaan (GBA), spearheading the campaign against SEZs and other mega projects in the state, feel that Chief Minister Kamat was not walking the talk.

“The plans in the Sancoale SEZ case were approved by the GIDC on April 15, a long while after the government’s ‘decision’ to scrap SEZ,” alleged GBA spokesperson Pravin Sabnis.

Nitin Kunkolienkar, a GIDC director, told IANS the corporation would take the land back even as he maintained Goa needed at least two to three SEZ, which could host non-polluting industries to bring forth economic development and generate jobs.

“The contentious issue right now is the quantum of land given to the SEZ developers. It (land) should not be so much,” Kunkolienkar said, adding that he was opposed to real estate development in the name of SEZ.

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