The state government is considering the option to use land acquired for Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in Maharashtra to set up industrial units of companies which have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the recently held Make in India event.

In a written reply submitted in the state assembly to a question about the success of SEZs in Maharashtra, state Industries Minister Shubhash Desai had said that this policy has not received encouraging response.

Speaking to The Hindu , Mr Desai said the lack of economic benefits due to change in tax policy by the previous government at the Centre has led to several industrial units losing their enthusiasm for SEZ projects. “Huge tracts of land acquired to be used for setting up SEZs are lying unused. We are considering the option to use this for setting up industries decided upon at the Make In India event,” he said.

Mr Desai added that the government will have to take approval from farmers and decide on their compensation package.

“They have given their land for a certain purpose and we will need to talk to them before announcing change in use,” Mr Desai added.

In a written reply to a question by BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar in the Assembly, Mr Desai said there is no response for SEZs. “The government has cancelled the orders for SEZs, and has decided on an integrated policy to develop industrial zones,” he said.

According to the new policy, 60 per cent of the land can be used for industrial purposes and the remaining for supplementary purposes like housing and commercial use.

“Due to the uncertainty in the global market, 19 developers have asked for their SEZs on 3001.8 hectare land to be de-notified, while 52 developers have requested for permission to roll back their sanctioned proposals of 7408.05 hectare,” he said.

The SEZ policy says these proposals are exempted from stamp duty, value added tax, non- agricultural tax and also from the royalty on minerals extracted while digging.

Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said the government is only trying to fool the public. “The state’s economic condition is not sound and the government is claiming to have received huge investments at the Make In India Week event. Now, the government has agreed that there’s no response for SEZs,” he said.

The new policy says 60% of SEZ land can be used for industrial purposes