Develop smart cities on former SEZs, say experts
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since concessions offered to an SEZ project such as minimum alternate tax and dividend distribution tax had been withdrawn.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.