The Board of Approvals (BOA) under the stewardship of Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath On Thursday approved 14 new proposals to set up Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
With this, the total number of SEZs approved by the Union government has gone up to 164.
A month back, the empowered group of ministers (e-GOM) headed by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee had lifted the cap on allowing SEZs that was earlier set at 150.
The panel had, however, put a rider on fresh approvals. Following reported resistance of Finance Minister P. Chidambaram citing revenue implications, the e-GOM had decided not to go ahead with fresh cases before at least 75 zones take off on the ground.
The panel had also decided to review the policy norms within five-six months before allowing the Commerce Ministry to approve fresh proposals for SEZs.
Commerce Minister Kamal Nath too had stated that though the cap on the number of SEZs had been lifted, new approvals have to wait till 75 zones take off on the ground. Yet, the BOA headed by Special Secretary in the Commerce Ministry Gopal Pillai cleared 14 new proposals, said a Finance Ministry official who requested anonymity.
However, Commerce Secretary S.N. Menon said: "there is no such rider for approving fresh cases".
Referring to objections raised by the Finance Ministry, Gopal Pillai told reporters, "concerns over the revenue loss are misplaced since the incremental economic activity would more than make up for the tax incentives".
Fresh cases approved by the BOA include a mega SEZ to be promoted by the Maharashtra Airport Development Company Ltd covering 2086 hectare at Nagpur.
Besides, DLF has been given the go-ahead to build IT-related zones in Gurgaon and Hyderabad while real estate player Parsvnath Developers would build IT zones at Dehradun and Indore. The Wellspun Group would promote a specialised textile zone in Gujarat.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Ministry has put in place stringent land use norms for SEZ developers, which leaves very little scope for misuse.