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Vacant SEZ land to be used for affordable housing: Maharashtra minister
The Hindu  |  February 21, 2020

Alok Deshpande, MUMBAI

In what could turn out to be a major blow to the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) developers who continue to hold land bank without setting up industries, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government is set to use an unexplored provision in the housing policy passed by the previous Devendra Fadnavis government which stipulates that in case of no industrial activity in more than 50% area, the land stands vested with the government.

 

Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad, while addressing a CII Real Estate Summit on Thursday, said that he thanked Mr. Fadnavis for coming out with a policy to curb land speculation by SEZ developers and which ensured land is available for affordable housing. “As a government we will pursue the policy and will ensure that the real estate industry benefits,” he said.

 

As per the policy on land acquired for SEZ by private developers, more than 25,000 acres across Maharashtra was notified under the emergency clause of the erstwhile Land Acquisition Act 1888.

 

The policy clearly says that, “Land speculation cannot be permitted and therefore the government will put to notice all SEZ developers to start industrial production/ permitted activity within the SEZ within a period of 24 months. The activity must cover more than 50% of the SEZ land acquired and in case the developer fails to do so, the entire balance land will stand vested with the government and the government will reimburse the cost of such land to the developer at the same rate at which it was originally acquired by the SEZ developer by using Government machinery and thereafter use it for providing affordable housing.”

 

It further added that a special Bill, titled SEZ Prevention of Land Speculation Bill would be introduced which will incorporate the above as the guiding principle.

 

Mr. Awhad later told The Hindu that he only mentioned about the housing policy because being the minister of the department it is his duty to follow it, irrespective of which government passed it. “It was Devendra Fadnavis who passed it. We will merely work accordingly,” he said.