Thursday, March 26, 2009

CAG report blames Goa IDC on SEZ mess

The controversy over the SEZs in Goa seems to throw up one skeleton after the other. The latest story to feature on the issue is the sharp criticism heaped on the Goa IDC by the Comptroller and auditor general , with its report on the land allotment to the special economic zones(SEZs) throwing up irregularities committed by the corporation.

Shockingly, the report states that the corporation allotted the said land to the SEZs  even before the state government of Goa formulated a policy in this regard and criticised the process of the allotment itself stating that the corporation had not publicised its intention of allotting the land and that the land allotment itself was not based on any selection process such as inviting any 'expressions of interest" thereby lacking in transparency.The report states that the said irregularities have resulted in a loss of over Rs 38 crore to the government of Goa.

The CAG also pointed out to the deviation of the corporation from established norms of developing and allotting land directly to entrepreneurs . It also expressed surprise at IDC's decision to keep the Annual Lease Rent (ALR) fixed at the time of allotment for a lease period of 30 years calling it an " undue concession" made to the SEZs and said that this decision deprived the corporation from revising the ALR during its area-wise revisions.

Besides the CAG also castigated the Goa IDC for allotting the 24 lakh sq mt of land at Verna which was originally acquired for promotion of small and medium scale industries under the central governments assistance of RS 10 crore and which was eventually allotted to the 5 companies to set up the  SEZs.

The SEZs which have been highlighted in this regard are Planet view Mercantile(SEZ for gem and Jewellery park), Paradigm Logistics( SEZ for IT/ITES park), K Raheja Corporation ( SEZ of services), Inox Meracantile ( bio-tech park SEZ) Maxgrow Finlease( IT SEZ) - All Verna allotments for SEZ, Peninsular Pharma Research centre( biotech park) at Sancoale and Meditab Specialites ( Pharma SEZ) at Keri.

It may be recalled that the setting up of the SEZs had led to an agitation in the state with the birth of the people's movement against SEZ's called the SEZ Virodhi Manch ( SVM) which highlighted the issue of land grabbing besides pointing out to the blindness in allowing the SEZs inspite of a lack of infrastructure to house its employees etc.

The Government of Goa eventually bowed to public pressure and in January 2008, scrapped the policy of SEZs and has initiated the process at the centre to denotify the three SEZs which had already been notified.

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