Land with cancelled SEZs to be returned: Maharashtra Govt.

Cancelled Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Maharashtra will have to return the Revenue department land they have acquired, but they can keep the land bought from farmers, officials said.

According to an official from Industries Department, more than 24,000 hectares were acquired for SEZs by industrial houses in the state.

The previous Manmohan Singh government had approved 139 SEZs in Maharashtra during its 10-year rule at the Centre, he said.

Land measuring 24,784 hectares, both public and private, was bought for the SEZs by various industrial houses in the state. These lands are still in their custody, though the licenses of 70 SEZs were either cancelled or their promoters quit the scheme, after a change in policy by the central government, he said.

In the remaining 69 SEZs, the businesses have not yet been set up on the land acquired, the official said.

Apurva Chandra, Principal Secretary (Industries), said, “If the land has been acquired from farmers, it will remain with the entrepreneur for whom the SEZ was approved. If the land is acquired from the Revenue department, the state will take it back in case the SEZ is cancelled.”

Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse admitted that most of the industrial houses have not returned huge tracts of land to the original owners or the government.

“Once the UPA government changed its SEZ policy, several industrial houses expressed their unwillingness to continue in the SEZ scheme,” he said.

A rule framed by the Revenue Department states that the land acquired by industrialists from farmers should be returned to them in case they fail to start their ventures on it within 10 years.

The state has given sops like exemption from paying stamp duty and local body taxes for setting up SEZs.

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