Possibly for the first time in its history, an inter-ministerial board on SEZs is scheduled to meet on October 21 sans any fresh proposal from developers for setting of the exports oriented zones.
Instead, three developers have knocked the doors of Commerce Ministry to surrender their projects. The Board of Approval (BoA) is headed by Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar.
"In earlier meetings, the BoA used to consider at least two-five fresh proposals of SEZ," an official said.
In past, the BoA has met for 42 times and gave approval for setting up about 580 SEZs.
The official, however, did not assign any reason why the BoA has not received any fresh application for SEZ.
The interest in SEZs, where businesses get rebate from payment of tax on income earned from units set up in the zones, is on decline as the draft Direct Tax Code (DTC) proposes to curtail the benefits. The DTC bill, if cleared by Parliament, will overhaul the country's Income Tax Act.
As per the agenda of the 43rd meeting, OIDC wants to surrender its IT SEZ in Dadra & Nagar Haveli, while Ajanta Projects (India) has requested the BoA for de-notification of its two zones located in Maharashtra.
Besides, the BoA would be considering requests of five developers, including Tata Consultancy Ltd, for time to execute their projects.
The board is also likely to come out with a policy for setting up of units for recycling of plastics in SEZs.
Direct employment in SEZs has gone beyond 5.5 lakh people and investments have crossed Rs 1.66 lakh crore.
Exports from 122 operational SEZs in the last fiscal were valued at Rs 2.20 lakh crore.