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With SEZs, Gujarat zones in on billions :

State Government gets approval for 20-odd proposals likely to bring in initial investment of over Rs 700 billion Express News Service Ahmedabad, September 10: Gujarat is fast becoming the hub for Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in the country. Though only Kandla and Surat SEZs are fully operational right now, the State plans to set up 25 SEZs. Of these, approval has been granted to 20-odd proposals which is likely to bring in initial investment of over Rs 700 billion.

‘‘The State has a number of ports. SEZs can import and export products on a large scale. It’s ideal to set up a special zone for manufacturing as it will help Gujarat get greater investment from manufacturing sector in the country and outside as the State provides good infrastructure,’’ says G I Desai, Deputy Commissioner (Industry). SEZs will usher in a new era of industrial revolution in the State, he adds.

Prominent groups have received approval to set up SEZs in Gujarat, including Reliance Industries Ltd with an investment of Rs 400 billion, Essar with Rs 110 billion, Adani Rs 100 billion and Gujarat Hira Bourse with an investment of Rs 40 billion. The SEZs will come in places like Ahmedabad, Dahej, Kutch, Vadodara and Navsari.

Explaining why the State is a good choice to set up SEZs, Industry Commissioner Arvind Agarwal says, ‘‘Amending the Industrial Disputes Act with the Centre’s permission in February 2004, the State has made it more flexible for employers. The companies have the freedom to appoint and retrench labour, besides offering better wages. At the same time, the environment is financially advantageous for the labourer as well. It’s a win-win situation.’’

Several SEZs for petrochemicals, jewellery, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, engineering as well as automobiles will turn operational in the next three years. The first phase of ‘Pharmez,’ being set up by Zydus Cadilla over 12 hectares near Ahmedabad, is likely to be completed by mid-2007. It’s likely to attract Rs 1,000 crore in investments. ‘‘Exports from the SEZ are pegged at Rs 2,000 crore in the first phase. It will provide direct employment to 1,000 people and indirect employment to 5,000,’’ says Pankaj R Patel, Managing Director of Zydus Cadilla. Pharmez has been conceptualised and modelled on the lines of internationally reputed pharma parks and Free Trade Zones with facilities like a business centre, Wi-Max and broad band connectivity, planned layout with landscaped open spaces, restaurant and other recreational facilities like yoga and meditation centre. It will also contain offices of SEZ Commissioner, Customs & Excise Commissioner and FDA. A unique aspect of Pharmez will be a museum on the evolution of pharmaceutical science. ‘‘This will be the biggest and the longest museum in Asia spread over an area of 5,00,000 sq ft providing a complete perspective on drug-making process,’’ says Patel.

The SEZs are being set up by the government either wholly or with private sector participation. Generally, the government provides land to private companies that develop SEZs. Deputy Commissioner (Industry) G I Desai, however, refuses to reveal the combined export potential of upcoming SEZs or how it will benefit the State’s economy. ‘‘Combined exports of Kandla and Surat — the two SEZs that are operational at the moment — have shown substantial increase. But it’s too premature to say anything about the others as they are not fully functional,’’ he says.

So far, the Centre has cleared nearly 150 SEZs across the country.

Monday , September 11, 2006. Indian Express

Reliance to set up integrated port in Gujarat :

Ahmedabad (International Business Times) - Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is all set to make a mega investment, running in thousands of crores, in developing an integrated port on India's western coast of Gujarat.

According to sources close to the development, Reliance has already begun the groundwork to find a suitable location for the port and has zeroed in to the Gulf of Kutch for the port since it has a huge refinery there and a proposed multi-product SEZ is in close proximity.

The necessity for a multi-cargo port stems from the fact that huge exports and imports cargo are likely to be generated when the company's massive multi-product SEZ, housing large units of multinational petroleum firms, and the new petroleum refining capacity becomes operational in Jamnagar.

The multi-product SEZ that the company is building in the northern hinterland of Haryana would also be better served through a port in Gujarat than the already clogged JNPT near Mumbai.

"We are conducting technical studies and financial evaluations to determine the ideal location, the draft required and the type of cargo that would be handled," company sources told India's leading financial daily, Economic Times.

However, the quantum of investment that Reliance is planning for port infrastructure was not immediately known.

The export cargo that Reliance is looking at handling includes that from the multi-product SEZ proposed at Haryana besides the Jamnagar SEZ, sources said.

They, however, added the company has not fixed any timeframe for developing the port infrastructure.

Several important ports such as Kandla, Mundra, Bedi, Okha and Navlakhi are located in the Gulf of Kutch.

Sources said that one of the ports that Reliance is surveying is Bedi, which has been identified for privatization under a central scheme for development of minor ports. The investment required for developing this port will be close to Rs. 900 crore, said port officials in Gujarat.

At present, Reliance is handling its captive cargo through its Sikka port. It is setting up three more single buoy moorings with an investment of close to Rs. 1,300 crore for the captive needs of the upcoming refinery at Jamnagar.

Source : International Business Times, 25/09/2006

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