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Archives for : SEZ

Joint Upward Arc of the Adani-Modi Graph

Cover StoriesMAGAZINE | MAR 10, 2014


All Along The Waterfront
Not as proverbial as the Ambani saga, but the joint upward arc of the Adani-Modi graph is striking. So are the grey areas.

In The Eye Of The Storm

  • AAP attack Arvind Kejriwal’s party wants an investigation into Narendra Modi’s “closeness” to Adani, dubbing him the corporate backer of the BJP’s ‘PM candidate’. Photos of Modi using the group’s corporate jets are doing the rounds.
  • Cheap land Adani has been accused of getting massive pieces of government land in Mundra dirt cheap (often as low as Rs 1 to Rs 16 per sq mt) when the official rates are much higher.
  • Green norms Another persistent charge is that the Modi government looked the other way while Adani built massive infrastructure projects in the state without getting green clearances.
  • CAG Scrutiny The CAG report on Gujarat reveals that the government was supplying expensive GSPC gas at cheap rates to the Adani group. Between 2006-09, this cost the exchequer Rs 70.5 crore.
  • Wharton withdrawal Adani withdrew its sponsorship for a Wharton Forum last year when the American university removed Modi as a keynote speaker as he did not want to get on the wrong side of Modi.
  • ‘Jayanthi tax’ When Modi attacked former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan, he was seen to be batting for the Adanis, whose special economic zone (SEZ) project in Mundra has run afoul of farmers and green rules.
  • Security Clearance Adani’s port project faced problems from the UPA government when it withheld security clearances following allegations of money-laundering and customs duty violations. It got clearance in 2013.
  • Karnataka Lokayukta In 2011, Justice Santosh Hegde faulted the Adani Group for illegal exports of wrongfully mined iron ore. He said the Adani group had paid many bribes.
  • Duty evasion In 2010, Gautam Adani’s brother Rajesh Adani was arrested on charges of evasion of customs duty. The matter was closed after the payment of a fine.


Denizens of downtown Ahmedabad say it’s better to leave early for Gautam Adani’s mansion, as it’s way beyond the BRT corridor, past the suburbs, off the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar highway. Guards do a thorough check of cars before they open the giant steel gates. It’s quite a drive from the gate to patio, with impeccably manicured lawns lined with flower beds and a fleet of parked cars. Then it’s a walk through gleaming corridors to the back lawns where a huge table is set up for breakfast. Guards lurk in the backgro­und, inconspicuous behind the trees and bushes.

There is a live breakfast counter making south Indian, Gujarati, north Indian, continental and even Chinese dishes, but everything is vegetarian. Waiters move around with assorted fruit drinks, biscuits and bakes. Gautam Adani, in a formal dark suit, greets guests warmly with a broad grin and heavily Gujarati-accented Hindi, and later similarly accen­ted English. He’s India’s 21st richest man, according to Forbes, with a personal net worth of around Rs 16,000 crore. With interests in private ports, power and coal trading, this infrastructure magnate, many aver, is another Amb­ani in the making. It’s a comparison Adani discourages.

Aisle seats Modi lands in Karnataka in Adani plane (encircled)


“Under the law, you can’t lay a brick without the environmental clearance but Adanis established the port and the SEZ.”Anand Yagnik, Gujarat-Based Lawyer

But like Mukesh Ambani, Adani has been in the news lately for non-business reasons. As the pre-election season warms up, the Aam Aadmi Party has asked about the “exact relationship” between the Adani group and the BJP’s prime minister­ial candidate. “We want to know about the rise of the Adani group in Gujarat,” the AAP’s Yogendra Yadav said at a rally. Answers are being sought on whether it’s just a coincidence that the spectacular growth of the largely Gujarat-based Adani group coincides with 12 years of the Modi governm­ent. This direct accusation by a political party explicitly verbalises more tacit spe­culation over the years on the links between Modi and the Adani group. It sharp-focuses charges that the Adani group has gained beyond measure in Gujarat, thanks to an over-eager state government that plied it with sops like cheap land, and an easy regulatory regime. The Adani group had not replied toOutlook’s questions at the time of going to press.

Actually, on the face of it, such a relationship could even be seen as ‘normal’, given Modi’s corporate-friendly image, one that he has never been ashamed of­—in fact, he is ope­nly using it to reach out to voters seeking development. And there’s nobody better than Adani, after all, that symbolises the Gujarat model. He’s the first homegrown billionaire out of the western state, a fascinating journey for a college dropout who moved on from trading (import-export business, as they say) to big-ticket infrastructure projects.

Kejriwal plays up the photo at AAP rally. (Photograph by Indian Express Archives)


“Adani has destroyed the mangroves, the water is polluted, the fish not fit to eat, there is bound to be long-term impact.”Dr Kanubhai Kalsariya, Former BJP MLA

For Adani has built assets on the ground, even if most of them have been in Gujarat. He runs India’s most efficient private port, Mundra, where visitors come back with stories of how it glistens like Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Hotel (where Adani, incidentally, was holed up during the 26/11 attacks in 2008). Mundra, which also hosts an SEZ, is fed by India’s largest private rail network set up by Adani. Then there’s Adani’s power business, which may be the reason for the group’s dependence on high levels of debt (at about Rs 80,000 crore, it is among the top 10 in terms of corporate debt in India). But even here, Adani has achieved admirable capacity, like in the coal trading business or edible oils. He’s attracted good talent, and is particularly fond of surrounding himself with ex-bureaucrats.

Many would argue that Adani’s success is the ‘Indian way’—of moving from trading to logistics, dreaming big and building scale in a very organic manner. Anyone who works in the infrastructure business will tell you that corruption is a given, and suitcases with cash are ferried about. That said, though Adani has had brushes with the law in the past (his brother was arrested by the CBI for evasion of customs duty in 2010), nothing has been conclusively proven. As for politicians, as Vijay G. Kalantri, chairman and managing director of Dighi Port Ltd, puts it, “Nobody in India has become big without political support or patro­nage. Also, to run a large corporate house you need political patronage and support, otherwise it is difficult in the present circumstances as the system is very cumbersome.”

Gautam Adani and Modi at the ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summit, 2011. (Photograph by Trupti Patel)


“We are waiting for the environment ministry to finalise its decision. What’s binding on us, we’ll comply with it.”G.K. Pillai, Ind Director, Adani Ports

Adani himself makes no bones about the need for political patronage. “I firmly believe that the business of infrastructure cannot be done without the blessings of the government,” he told Fortune magazine in a 2011 story. Adani also “defended India’s style of capitalism” in a New York Times story. Of late, the group has been trying to downplay his proximity to Modi, stressing that the group has got approvals in earlier regimes too. Insiders say the group enjoys the political patronage of Congress and NCP politicians too (Kamal Nath and Sharad Pawar are mentioned here). A Gujarat Congress leader, unwilling to be identified, grudgingly concedes that Adani enjoys the “patronage of all influential political leaders irrespective of the party. He has support both at the state and the central level.”

In fact, given Gujarat’s penchant for big business, some might ask why Adani alone is being targeted. The short answer is that Adani is the only big businessman in Gujarat who has made his billions after Modi came to power. His turnover has grown 12-fold in the years under Modi’s reg­ime to Rs 35,881 crore. Over the past 10 years, the Adani group’s listed firms have shown staggering compounded annual growth of 21.7 per cent in sales and, even better, 37.1 per cent in profit after tax. “For a first-generation company, its growth is frankly quite astounding,” says somebody who has closely tracked the group as an analyst.

Photograph by Mayur Bhatt


“To run a large corporate house you need political patronage and support, otherwise it is difficult in present circumstances.”Vijay G. Kalantri, CMD, Dighi Port Ltd

Though such comparisons are never perfect given the different businesses, all experts Outlook spoke to agreed that Adani’s sheer growth rate overshadows any comparable infrastructure firm in the country. “What is in his companies that gives him such a success rate,” asks a senior infrastructure consultant (who has not worked with the Adanis), adding that “there is logically no answer, so it has to be something beyond that”. Adds a retired IAS officer from the Gujarat cadre, “Adani is blessed because he gets more permissions, and the things he does with those permissions are not taken note of.”

Adding fuel to the relationship between Modi and Adani is the fact that the two have openly reached out to the other in the past. For instance, it was Adani’s decision to cancel the sponsorship of a Wharton India Economic Forum event last year after it dropped a live video address by Modi. Or in arranging a special air-conditioned tent on the university grounds when Modi staged a dharna in Ahmedabad over the Narmada water issue. At last year’s Vibrant Gujarat function, Gautam Adani was the only businessman (apart from Anil Ambani) who made a clear pitch for Modi, saying that he hoped “Modi would migrate northwards (read Delhi)”. In an earlier Vibrant Gujarat, surrounded by the Tatas and Ambanis, it was Adani who got to sit next to Modi. More recently, when Modi attacked former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan, most agreed he was batting for the environment concerns Adani’s Mundra port was facing.

Photograph by Mayur Bhatt


“The huge outgo in corporate/infrastructure subsidies means little resources left for the social sector in Gujarat.”Prof Indira Hirway, Centre For Devt Alternatives

This close relationship goes back to the early days of Modi’s regime. For almost a year, he sidelined Reliance, which had had very close relations with his predecessor, Keshubhai Patel, and forged links with the Essar group. But then, the Gujarat riots happened and senior CII members attacked Modi. As journalist Kingshuk Nag reminds us in his recent book, The Namo Story, “Leading businessmen of Gujarat who were on the same page as Modi regrouped under the Resurgent Group of Gujarat (RCG). Along with Karsenbhai Patel of Nirma, it was Adani who played a key role in the formation. A statement issued by them said, ‘Forces causing embarrassment to the state globally need not misunderstand peace-loving and tolerant nature of Gujarat as its weakness’.” Later, Adani cemented his hold on Modi’s regime by making big investment plans in Vibrant Gujarat functions—he also leads the lobbying for Modi abroad.

In return for this support, what did Adani get? Land, cheap land, and lots of it. Ahmedabad-based lawyer Anand Yagnik has been fighting cases in the Gujarat High Court and the Supreme Court against allocation of land given to the Adani group by the Modi government. Indeed, he has horror stories to recount—all land allocation to the Adani group after Modi came to power has been done at a price much lower than the Jantri price (arrived at after evaluation of land by the Gujarat revenue department). In case more than 10 acres of land is allocated to any party at a price lower than the Jantri, the power of clearing that allocation moves from the local collector to the state revenue secretary.

The revenue ministry was headed by Anandiben Patel, a close aide of Modi. According to Yagnik, all clearances to Adani were made at a swift pace—the group got land at prices ranging between Rs 1 to Rs 16 per square metre. This when land for industrial purposes in the area is worth Rs 200-300 per sq metre. In fact, Yagnik says that in the pre-Modi regime, the Adani group’s land holding was about 3,000 acres. In the Modi era, this has increased to about 2 lakh acres, of which 45,000 acres has been given by the state. Indeed, the group has stated before the commerce ministry and submissions before the courts that it has 45,000 acres of land only for the SEZ. The Mundra port stretches over 35-40 km of coastline (almost equivalent to the size of Mumbai)­—this was given to the group for about Rs 33 crore (when the Jantri value of the land was Rs 3,000 crore).

Docking space Robert Vadra (with Adani) visiting Mundra port


“At various stages, the Adani Group has been favoured by the govt, especially in relation to land allotment.”Suresh Mehta, Former Gujarat CM

Yagnik adds that the Adani group also did large-scale dredging in the coastal areas to support its port. This new land was evaluated by the government and given to the company at thr­owaway prices. “The land was then sold by the Adanis to IOC, ONGC and other PSUs at rates of over Rs 600 per sq metre. The Adani group was also exempted from all stamp duties for the thousands of acres of land at the SEZ, making the magnitude of this state subsidy phenomenal,” concludes Yagnik.

The other big issue is the environment. At the showcase Mundra port, Adani has also run afoul of environmentalists for violating the Coastal Regulation Zone rules, illegally cle­aring mangroves and contaminating the water with inadequately treated waste water, leading to considerable damage to the coastal areas, alleges Dr Kanubhai Kalsariya, a former BJP MLA supporting the agitating fishermen living in the Navinal village within the Mundra SEZ. The fishing communities in the area fear the destruction of their traditional fishing grounds, even denial of access to it.

At the heart of all this is a disregard for the law. “Adani proceeded on construction of facilities at Mundra without the required environmental clearances—on the basis of an in-principle clearance given to part of the land in 2004. Adani’s land was approved in 2007,” says Suresh Mehta, ex-Gujarat CM who’s also had a stint as state industries minister. Former home secretary G.K. Pillai, now an independent director on the Adani ports and SEZ board, clarifies that all the units have individually got green clearances while the SEZ has got the nod from Gujarat Pollution Control Board. The wait now is for the Union environment ministry to give its decision based on the recommendations of the Sunita Narain Committee report.

Incidentally, Pillai faced some questions for taking up the job with the Adani group while it was still awaiting security clearances in 2010-11. Pillai’s defence is he took up the assignment nearly 20 months after retirement. The government held up security clearances following allegations of money-laundering and customs duty violations (the issue has been resolved with payment of fines). Official sources claim that many of Adani’s problems at the Centre stem from his perceived closeness to Modi. That may be partly true. But that doesn’t fully explain the many other controversies surrounding the Adani group.


The West India Company

A short history of Gautam Adani

  • Born in 1962 in Ratanpol, north Gujarat, into a family of 7 siblings. Father was a commodities trader.
  • In 1978, Gautam dropped out of morning college classes in Mumbai and became a diamond trader; moved to Ahmedabad in 1981 to help start a cousin’s PVC-trading firm.
  • Adani sets up his commodities trading venture in 1988 with Adani Exports. Today has a personal net worth of $2.65 billion (approximately Rs 16,000 crore).
  • Is most comfortable speaking Gujarati; is reputed to be decisive, humble, and a good listener. Likes to surround himself with ex-bureaucrats, whom he looks after well; said to know the first names of his top 500 executives.
  • Claims to have good relations across the political spectrum, but is closest to Modi and makes no bones that doing business in India requires access to politicians.
  • 20 is his lucky number. Has set targets with that number for the year 2020 (200 MMT of cargo handled, 20,000 MW of power generation capacity and so on).
  • Was kidnapped in 1997 in Ahmedabad, released after 18 hours when ransom was paid; police say Adani had to be “gently persuaded” to file a complaint.
  • Adani was also inside Mumbai’s Taj Hotel when it was attacked on the night of November 26, 2008; says he was amongst the last to get out safely.
  • Has a fleet of BMWs,  and a penchant for vintage cars. Also has three aircraft including a Beechcraft and a Bombardier, plus helicopters.
  • Has a dentist wife who now works with Adani, two children. Nephew Pranav Adani closely works with the group.


The Adani Empire: The infrastructure and consumer businesses that comprise the House of Adani

  • Trading Adani is India’s largest private trader in coal, with mines in Australia and Indonesia.
  • Ports & SEZ With Mundra, it’s also India’s biggest private port operator. Also has two more ports (Dahej and Hazira), four ships, and India’s largest private railway line.
  • Power Coal-based power producer with 9,240 MW installed capacity.
  • Edible Oils 50:50 JV with Wilmar Group of Singapore, has 18 facilities across India. At 2.2 MT/year, it has one of the largest refining capacities in India. ‘Fortune’ is the main brand.
  • Agriculture Has investments on the ground in fruit cold storage and foodgrains storage.
  • Real Estate A small part of its business is in real estate; Adani Realty is developing 50 million sq ft of real estate in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kochi and Gurgaon

By Sunit Arora with Lola Nayar and Arindam Mukherjee in Ahmedabad

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#India – Special Economic Zones ( SEZs) can use 40% of land for residential projects #WTFnews

You’ve got to hand it to them

Friday, Jul 19, 2013, 10:26 IST | Agency: DNA


– Ravi Jadhav/DNA

Exactly how much land within areas designated as Special Economic Zones (SEZ) or Integrated Industrial Areas (IIA) is released for residential development by SEZ promoters could dictate how realty rates move in and around these industrial zones following the go-ahead from the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly to the revised industrial policy.

With the passage of the Maharashtra Industrial Development (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday, promoters of SEZs can unlock up to 40% of land within SEZs for construction of residential spaces, and develop industries on the remaining land.

Owing to this decision, 35,000 acres of land will be unlocked in the state — the major chunk of which is located in the peripheries of Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur.

The corollary, say experts, is that the price of your dream home would in the next five or ten years be determined by the few industrialists who own these large swathes of land in SEZs across the state with the SEZs themselves mostly non-starters.

In fact, BJP state president and MLA Devendra Fadnavis, while speaking on the bill in the assembly, said the policy was designed to favour Maha SEZ, promoted by Mukesh Ambani. Fadnavis also alleged that SEZ promoters would get away with carrying out only housing projects without developing enough industries. He also stated that the policy would allow the promoters to make huge profits from the project without giving any revenue to the state government.

Ambani and his close associate, Anand Jain, co-promoter of the Navi Mumbai Special Economic Zone (NMSEZ), jointly own over 7,500 acres of land in the state with over 4,300 acres at Ulwe and Dronagiri in Navi Mumbai alone. The proposed Navi Mumbai International airport is a stone’s throw away from NMSEZ.

It’s more or less similar at other metro-cities where large industrial groups own huge chunks of SEZ land.

Another prominent developer said that as part of the strategy, these large players could initially launch mass residential projects at cheaper rates, perhaps with a view to crush smaller players. “That done, the big guys will have the run of the real estate market and will decide property rates in the city. Small developers will not have any safety net.”

Ulka Mahajan, anti-SEZ activist, said she and other activists had been harping on this for a long time, that farm land was being acquired not for the industrial development but for real estate. “The government then accused us of being anti-development. Now, it has been proved and exposed that the government’s intention is to help the big players. The land was acquired at cheap rates by threatening farmers. Now it will be sold at high rates. It is sad,” she said, adding that gradually 60% of the remaining land will also be allowed for residential use.

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

Anupam Chakravartty, downtoearth
Issue Date:

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.



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NAPM- No land should be forcibly acquired for Private and PPP Projects


English: Medha Patkar in Sasthamkotta

English: Medha Patkar in Sasthamkotta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


NAPM welcomes the decision to cancel 4 SEZs



No land should be forcibly acquired for Private and PPP Projects



Mumbai, August 1: The decision of the Maharashtra Government to cancel 4 SEZ projects which were proved to be illegal & unjust, on one ground or other, brings a hope to the people’s struggles for justice & against land grabbing. These projects were stalled by the common people, farmers to fishworkers, and women as well as youngsters who were at the forefront of the struggle.




The issues were clear & justifiable. Land to be acquired for private corporates is an illegitimate and unconstitutional act. When the profit-motives are clear in these projects, earning crores of rupees, out of land & other sources of livelihood, these resources are received with the State facilitating them. It’s this role of the State which is bullying & ousting our rural folk that was objected by the natural resource based communities, asserting their right to approve or disapprove the project which the State government has ultimately admitted.




The non-violent struggles are raising basic questions of inequity which is a clear outcome of SEZ Act & similar moves promoting corporatisation. We question and oppose industries which are land & water-intensive, capital intensive but not labour intensive and their impacts on ecologies, neither mitigated nor compensated. It is unfortunate the more sustainable & employment generating, local resource-based industries proposed by the movements as alternative options are negated by the governments. People are certainly not for the industrialisation at the cost of agricultural, since food security and livelihood is certainly our first priority. The whole model of SEZ with subsidised land, water, electricity, outside the jurisdiction of the gram sabhas and panchayats, tax holidays and exemptions is a blot on democracy and sovereignty of both, people & the State.




It’s obvious that all tactics & manoeuvring efforts by the Corporates failed in this regard & the State level ministers couldn’t carry out their initial agenda of joining hands with Corporates earning out of these projects. It’s, however, an ultimate victory of the firm view, clear perspective & perseverent strategy, along with an all pervasive analysis of the fraud that SEZ Act & projects are. Maharashtra cabinet too deserves a pat for this pro-people decision. Even though this is later, but better late than never. They should, without any delay must remove restrictions & reservations put up, on the titles of the landholders. If this cancellation is to bring in another project like Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor at the cost of farms & farmers, that will also face the same fate, we warn. We continue to fight the battle for cancellation of the undemocratic & unconstitutional SEZ Act, 2005.




We would also like to mention that the proposed amendments being brought out by the UPA government to the SEZ Act is not going to alter our opposition to the Act since, they are only aimed at facilitating land grab. Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act is also going to facilitate the land grab for private corporations and we oppose this. People’s Movements will thwart every attempt at subverting the laws of the country and handing over the precious natural resources to the predatory corporations. It’s time the governments across the country listened to the voices of dissent and worked in favour of the majority of the population.




Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe, Suniti S. R., Medha Patkar




For details contact : 9423571784 / 9818905316




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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.


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