Delhi-based realty giant DLF Ltd received two approvals and Mukesh Ambani's Navi Mumbai venture three on Friday as the Board of Approval under the Commerce Ministry grated formal approvals for 36 more special economic zones (SEZs).
Preliminary in-principle approvals were given to nine projects.
Three zones promoted by Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani and his associate Anand Jain under the Navi Mumbai SEZ Private Ltd involving a total of 345 hectares (860 acres) for engineering, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals received formal approvals, while an affiliate of Anil Ambani Group's Reliance Infocomm secured approval for an information technology-related SEZ of 18 hectares.
A formal approval is granted for a proposal based on a detailed plan and land-related formalities, while a notification is issued after a group of ministers considers the project.
The Commerce Ministry said 339 SEZs have so far been granted formal approval with land, and of these ,126 have been notified. About Rs 35,145 crore have been invested already and 33,000 people employed.
"It is expected that by the end of the year additional employment in the new SEZs would cross 100,000," the ministry said in a statement.
The board gave an in-principle to a 2,024-hectare (5,049 acre) project by DLF at Bhiwadi in Rajasthan for a multi-product SEZ, while formal approval was granted for 10-hectare project for electronics, information technology and hardware at Sonepat in Haryana.
Among other corporate firms, GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd received formal approval for a 100-hectare aviation sector SEZ in Andhra Pradesh, while Parry Infrastructure Company Pvt Ltd secured approval for a 101-hectare food processing zone in the same state.
While SEZs have been dogged by controversy over land acquisitions and displacement of rural communities, they have gained momentum after the government decided to stay away from controversial land acquisitions.
"Chief Secretaries of all the State Governments have been informed that the State Governments would undertake acquisition of land for SEZs only when 100 per cent of the owners give consent," the ministry statement said.
"The State Government representatives were informed that if any proposal for compulsorily acquired land comes up, the same would not be notified as SEZ. It was also advised that to the extent possible, double crop and multiple crop lands should not be acquired."
Some 53 applications were considered on Friday.
State agencies like the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation, the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (Elcot) and the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board were prominent in the latest list of approvals.