The government has asked Persipina Developers–an entity of real estate magnate Niranjan Hiranandani–to de-notify a portion of its special economic zone (SEZ) that houses as many as 1,012 residential units from the rest of its SEZ in Navi Mumbai, according to the minutes of a meeting of the board of approval (BoA) for such zones, held on November 9.
FE was the first to report on October 23 that more than 1,000 families had approached the commerce ministry, alleging “fraud” committed in the “sale” of flats in this SEZ in Panvel in Navi Mumbai. Persipina is 50% owned by Hiranandani indirectly.
This de-notification means the relevant part will no longer enjoy benefits, including duty-free imported machinery and raw materials, accorded to an SEZ. However, for de-notification to take place, the SEZ developer has to first pay back for all the incentives it has enjoyed to develop that part. However, although developers are barred from selling residential or even commercial infrastructure in the non-processing area of an SEZ, they will be able to do so after de-notification.
The BoA, headed by commerce secretary Rita Teaotia, also rejected a proposal by Persipina, seeking permission for the dual use of infrastructure in the non-processing areas of its SEZ. This means the developer can’t even rent out or lease any infrastructure in the non-processing area of the SEZ to entities or people outside the zone.
In a letter to commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the families had alleged: “This fraud was perpetrated deliberately by hiding that flats in SEZ can never be sold, and only those who applied for registering the property came to know at too late a stage that the builder, despite charging a premium…, was in fact selling us a flat where he was denying us our rights of being called flat owners under the pretext of flats being subject to SEZ rules.”
While these people asserted they were sold flats in the SEZ, a Hiranandani group spokesperson insisted in an email to FE that the flats were given only on “lease”.