The Maharashtra government has scrapped a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) that was to be developed by consumer electronics giant Videocon near Pune, in an apparent move to appease farmers ahead of next month’s assembly elections in the state.
The decision was taken at a meeting convened by Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on August 25, just a week before elections were announced and the model code of conduct came into force, said an official tracking the matter.
Maharashtra goes to the polls on October 13.
Chavan was under pressure from ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), after farmers of Wagholi — where the project was to be located — refused to give land for the SEZ, said the official, who didn’t want to be named.
Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot attended the meeting, he said.
Dhoot confirmed the development, but said his company had already signed an MoU for an alternative site in Saswad in Pune district.
“We will not proceed further in land acquisition process,” Principal Secretary (Industries) A.M. Khan said, The SEZ was to come up in an area spanning more than 1,800 acres. It was proposed as a joint venture between Videocon and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation.
It received setback in March 2008, when farmers staged violent demonstrations against the land acquisition. The government stayed the acquisition in November 2008.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar visited some of the villages in the midst of the agitation and announced it was improper to acquire the land without the farmers’ consent.
The agitation affected NCP’s vote share in Lok Sabha elections, as part of the SEZ was situated in Pawar’s earlier Lok Sabha constituency, Baramati.