The future of the 10,000-hectare Mukesh Ambani promoted Mumbai SEZ Ltd (MSEZ) in Raigad district seems uncertain.
The Government Board of Approval in Delhi has asked the MSEZ authorities to present a fresh proposal for setting up the multi-product special economic zone (SEZ) in Raigad, and has denied them extension.
Cleared in 2005, the pending land acquisition issues — only 20 per cent has been acquired — had made them apply for two extensions that had expired on August 8. The extension is needed to complete the procedure to buy land.
The Board of Approvals, which gives the final nod to set up SEZs, said it cannot grant it full approval unless 90 per cent of the land has been acquired.
“They have to a file the Form A (fresh application) and get recommendations of the state government,” said D.K. Mittal, additional secretary in Commerce Ministry.
Cleared in 2005, the Mumbai SEZ Ltd had hoped to build the largest free-trade multipurpose zone in Raigad at a cost of Rs 30,000 crore, which would be connected to Mumbai through a sea bridge, the 22.5-km Trans-Harbour Sealink.
But the MSEZ was opposed by the landowners and farmers — of the 29,000 land acquisition notices given to owners across 45 villages, only 20 per cent gave their land. Following a protest staged by the farmers, the Raigad collector had conducted a referendum on the project in 22 villages in 2008, the report of which is pending with the government.
The MSEZ has already spent Rs 1,200 crore on the project.
This move has come as news of victory for those opposing the SEZ.
“That the Mumbai SEZ Ltd has been asked to submit a fresh proposal means that the earlier one stands scrapped. But now we appeal to the state government not to go ahead with a new proposal for SEZ in this area,” said Ulka Mahajan of SEZ-Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, a group fighting against the SEZ.
Industries Secretary A.M. Khan said it was too early to conclude if the previous SEZ is scrapped.
“We have yet to receive the order and will comment only after that,” he said.
MSEZ spokesperson refused to comment when contacted.