The state’s new industrial policy has become another sore point between the ruling allies, with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) expressing reservations over it even after Cabinet clearance.
On Thursday, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar skipped the press conference organised by the government to talk about the policy. Sources said Pawar was upset with the way the Congress tried to claim full credit for the policy by announcing it first at a party function on Wednesday.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik denied there were differences between the ruling alliance over the policy, but cautioned the Congress-led industries department that the targets laid out — getting Rs5 lakh-crore investment and creating 20 lakh jobs — would remain on paper unless there were speedier clearances.
“If the targets have to be achieved, you can’t centralise power in Mantralaya for clearances. Single windows for clearance should be created at district levels,” he said.
Industries minister Narayan Rane slammed the media for criticising the policy as being real estate-driven without reading the fine print. His real bugbear was the NCP, whose ministers had argued over the same issues for hours on Wednesday in Cabinet.
NCP ministers had questioned the SEZ exit option, which can potentially allow 27,000 hectares of land acquired for export-focused market enclaves to be transformed into industrial parks, with 40% of the land being reserved for residential and commercial buildings.
The NCP had argued that the 40% reservation would allow developers to cash in on prime real estate as many of the proposed SEZs are in Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Pune.
NCP leaders had also demanded that private SEZ projects, where developers were keen to exit, get clearance from Cabinet instead of the industries department. The Cabinet was forced to accept this demand.