A day after facing criticism from its political ally, Congressmen, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and industries minister Narayan Rane, on Thursday justified the new industrial policy that allows investors to exit special economic zones (SEZs) by converting them into integrated industrial areas (IIAs), in which they can commercially exploit 40% of the acquired land.
The ministers said denotified SEZ investors, who have bought land through private deals without seeking government assistance, would anyway try to get returns on investments by commercialising such land. The concessions in the new policy, they pointed out, would ensure the larger section of the acquired land is used for industrial purpose and bring investment into the state.
Both Chavan and Rane lost their tempers while fending uncomfortable questions and defending the policy at a press conference, and refused to answer several questions. Neither clarified as to what the government planned to do with the land it has acquired for SEZs.
Rane got into a heated argument with media persons who wanted to know whether the state had set guidelines for the sale of commercial land in the open market. “The state did not play any role in these land deals. Any investor would like to get returns for the money he has put in. What if he’s not able to sell the industrial component under the policy?” he countered.
Chavan accused the media of a motivated approach in reporting the Nationalist Congress Party ministers’ allegations that the SEZ exit policy, which is part of the state’s new industry policy, is a housing policy.
At the press conference, deputy CM Ajit Pawar was conspicuous by his absence. Rane said Pawar was caught up in a meeting and would join them, but he did not turn up, giving credence to NCP ministers’ stand.
Chavan said the state has tried to rein in promoters of integrated industrial areas (IIAs), who were earlier allowed to use 50% of the land for non-industry purposes. “We have reduced the non-industry component by 10% and will ensure that the IIA promoter puts in place infrastructure such as roads, drainage, hospitals, schools, power and water before developing land for commercial use,” the CM said.