De­velop smart cities on for­mer SEZs, say ex­perts

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Van­dana Ram­nani

Given t he chal­lenge o f a c q u i r i n g n ew land un­der the Land Ac­qui­si­tion, Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and Re­set­tle­ment ( Amend­ment) Bill, 2015, it makes im­mi­nent sense to de­velop smart cities and ini­ti­ate the Make in In­dia pro­gramme on large parcels meant for SEZs which are unutilised and in the process of be­ing de­no­ti­fied.

“While most of these erst­while- SEZ landown­ers are clear that the SEZ op­por­tu­nity no longer seems in­ter­est­ing, they are cur­rently eval­u­at­ing op­tions post SEZ de­no­ti­fi­ca­tion. In the ab­sence of a clearly de­fined pol­icy frame­work from state gov­ern­ments, these land parcels with sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic con­tri­bu­tion po­ten­tial have been ly­ing un­de­vel­oped and unutilised,” points out Anckur Sri­vast­tava of GenReal Ad­vis­ers.

The Haryana gov­ern­ment had rolled out a pol­icy ini­tia­tive last year for con­vert­ing these erst­while SEZs into in­dus­trial town­ships. How­ever, the eco­nom­ics of the pro­posed con­ver­sion process did not make sense to any of these SEZ pro­mot­ers. And now with the Make in In­dia and smart cities ini­tia­tive in place, it makes sense to con­vert them into in­dus­trial zones or smart cities.

There have been re­ports of the like­li­hood of a global city with at­tributes of a smart city com­ing up on 800 acres of land re­turned to the Haryana gov­ern­ment by Re­liance Haryana SEZ Lim­ited. The SEZ to be built by Re­liance Haryana SEZ, a joint ven­ture be­tween Re­liance Ven­tures, a whol­ly­owned sub­sidiary of Re­liance In­dus­tries Lim­ited (RIL) and Haryana State In­dus­trial and In­fra­struc­ture De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion had been ren­dered un­vi­able since con­ces­sions of­fered to an SEZ pro­ject such as min­i­mum al­ter­nate tax and div­i­dend dis­tri­bu­tion tax had been with­drawn.

The Mad­hya Pradesh gov­ern­ment is also plan­ning to de­velop a smart city on 300 acres of non-pro­cess­ing area of the In­dore spe­cial eco­nomic zone lo­cated in Pitham­pur. Cur­rently, there are 47 opera- tional units in the zone. The In­dore SEZ is spread over an area of 1,113 hectares.

“As new land ac­qui­si­tion would be­come sig­nif­i­cantly tougher from a time and cost per­spec­tive once the new land ac­qui­si­tion bill is no­ti­fied, it makes sense to use these land parcels for smart cities or the Make in In­dia ini­tia­tive,” says Sri­vast­tava.

Depend­ing upon the lo­ca­tion and other re­lated dy­nam­ics, some land parcels al­ready vested with the gov­ern­ment are ideally suited for green­field smart cities. This would be a straight­for­ward way of en­sur­ing that the first few smart city projects com­mence on the right note and in a timely man­ner, he adds.

All the new ini­tia­tives – the Make in In­dia, smart cities and Hous­ing for All are in­ter linked. It makes sense to de­velop in­dus­trial parks in ar­eas which have ad­e­quate so­cial in­fra­struc­ture avail­able and bring in labour. No city can call it­self smart with­out job cre­ation,” says An­shu­man Mag­a­zine, chair­man & MD, CBRE South Asia Pvt Ltd CBRE.

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