HC asks Goa to decide on SEZ ‘stop work’ orders

Cannot de-notify zones: Centre

The controversy Goa Govt decides to scraps SEZs, issues stop work orders.
Three promoters challenge the order in Court.Activist groups don’t want reversal of decision.

Panaji, June 2 A division bench of the Bombay High Court in Goa directed the Goa Government on Monday to take a decision within two weeks over its ‘stop work’ orders issued earlier to three private promoters of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
The Court directive came after counsel representing K. Raheja Corporation Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, one of the three SEZ promoters that have challenged the ‘stop work’ order of the State Government in the Court, brought to the notice of the Court during a hearing on Monday that the Union Commerce Ministry has formally written to the Goa Government conveying its inability to de-notify the three already notified SEZs. In view of the letter, he sought a direction from the Court to the State Government to vacate its earlier stop order.
The Court directed the State Government to decide on the matter and granted a time of two weeks based on the Advocate-General’s plea.
Aggrieved parties
The Goa Government’s stop work orders have been challenged by Meditab Speciality Pvt Ltd, a pharma subsidiary of Mumbai-based Cipla group, which proposes to set up a pharma SEZ at Bhutkhamb at Kerim in Central Goa, Mumbai-based K. Raheja Corporation Pvt Ltd, which proposes to come up with IT and ITES SEZ at Verna in south Goa, and Mumbai-based Peninsula Pharma Research Centre, which proposes to come up with a biotech SEZ at Sancoale in south Goa.
The parties have claimed that huge investment was at stake in their SEZ projects that were already notified and work was in progress.
Scrapping SEZ
The stop work orders were issued by the Digambar Kamat Government after it formally decided to scrap the SEZ projects following public agitation, which virtually threatened to disrupt the New Year tourism celebrations in the State on December 31. The stop work orders were formally issued on January 10 this year.
Apart from the three notified SEZs, the State government also withdrew its approval for some more SEZ proposals that were approved by the Union Commerce Ministry but not notified, and withdrew some proposals that were recommended but not even approved.
The activist groups opposed to SEZs, which mobilised the people in the vicinity of the project, however, continue to put pressure on the Congress-led coalition government not to reverse its decision to scrap SEZs in Goa.
The Chief Minister, while scrapping the SEZs, had gone on record saying he will not allow projects, which the people did not want.
Later in the evening, the Chief Secretary, Mr J.P. Singh, confirmed that the State Government would take an official stand over the three SEZs in a couple of days after talking to the respective parties in view of the Centre’s decision not to denotify the three SEZs.
Prakash Kamat
Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com

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