The commerce ministry has decided to cancel approval of all those special economic zones (SEZs) whose validity has expired and the developer has not sought extension. According to minutes of the meeting of the Board of Approval, the decision was taken on July 3. The inter-ministerial board, which deals in SEZ related matters, is headed by Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia. “The board has decided to cancel all those letters of approval, validity of which had expired and the developer had not approached the board for further extension,” the minutes of the meeting said. The state governments in question have also been asked to recover duty exemptions from the SEZs. At the meeting, the board considered cancellation of as many as 62 special economic zones, including the Cochin Port Trust, as the developers have not shown interest in moving forward with the projects. Further, the board has given more time to 10 SEZ developers and units, including HBS Pharma and Mayar Infrastructure, to implement their projects. Others that have got additional time for their projects include Lanco Solar, KPIT Technologies and PreciStat IT Solutions. HBS Pharma has sought similar relief for its pharmaceutical SEZ in Gujarat. “The board after deliberations extended the validity of the formal approval up to June 16 next year,” the minutes said.
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Similarly, Mayar Infrastructure has a window till July 2018 for its biotechnology SEZ coming up in Gurgaon. SEZs are developed as major export hubs for the country. Export from these zones grew nearly 12 per cent to Rs 5.24 lakh crore in 2016-17. Data showed that as on March 31, the SEZs have attracted investments worth Rs 4.23 lakh crore and generated employment for 17.31 lakh people. States like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Maharashtra are home to the highest number of operational SEZs. Till May 1, the government has approved as many as 421 such zones, of which 218 are operational.