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Bengal to devise policy for SEZs

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15 proposals already received for multi-product mega SEZs

Plans on the anvil
15 proposals for setting up multi-product mega SEZs The State has made progress in attracting investments Product-specific SEZs will also be accommodated

Kolkata July 16

The West Bengal Government is expected to formulate a policy on multi-product SEZs requiring over 2,500 acres by next week. The policy will aim at optimum use of agricultural land for industry.

The SEZs are also expected to play a major role in enhancing the rate of investments from the existing Rs 2,000-2,500 crore a year to Rs 4,000- 4,500 crore a year, during the next five years.

Proposals received

"We have already received over 15 such proposals for setting up multi-product mega SEZs. However, it is impossible to accommodate all of them. Also, we do not consider that setting up SEZs alone would rain investments in the state. Accordingly, we will adopt a policy earmarking the possible locations and number of such SEZs," a senior government official told newspersons on Friday.

According to him, the State has already firmed up or is in the process of firming up two such proposals, one each at Kulpi in South 24-Parganas and Haldia in East Midnapore districts. "We may accommodate two more SEZs in North Bengal and South Bengal districts taking the total to four or at best up to six," the official said.

The State Government, however, is open to accommodating the product specific SEZs. "These SEZs require lesser quantities of land and can be accommodated in the future," the official said.

Addressing the row

Referring to a recent controversy over use of fertile land for industrial use, the official said that while the State Government was keen to use only less fertile lands for such purposes, it was practically impossible to stick to the principle while acquiring large chunks of land.

"In a state like West Bengal where proportion of fertile land is substantially high, especially in the districts surrounding Kolkata, and large scale acquisition of land for industrial purposes might include some of the best agricultural lands," he said. "While it is bound to affect sections of the farmer community, we think we can strike a balance through proper rehabilitation of the affected.

"Also, we may take help of private capital in transforming the single crop land in multi-crop to ensure that the share of cultivable land remains same."

Good progress

Overall, the State Government is committed to ensure speedy industrialisation of the state to reduce pressure on agriculture, the official said, adding that the State has made marked progress in attracting investments in last five years and is now looking at even higher rate of growth of private capital.

"During the first five years of 1990's, we received Rs 40 to Rs 50 crore of annual investments. It increased to roughly Rs 500 crore a year during 1995-2000 and has shot up to approximately Rs 2,500 crore during 2000-2005."

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