Jul 8, 2008
The much awaited and controversy-ridden Mangalore Special Economic Zone (MSEZ) is all set to begin its establishment activities in the 1800 acres of land which is currently in possession of Mangalore Special Economic Zone Limited (MSEZL). The project received a shot in the arm after the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of Karnataka accorded environmental clearance for 1800 acres on 3rd April, 2008, followed by the formal approval by the Ministry of Commerce , Government of India on 30th April 2004, for setting up sector specific Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The project has also acquired Consent for Establishment (CFE) from Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) in April this year. This clearance will serve as a morale booster to the beleaguered Mangalore SEZ.
MIRED IN CONTROVERSY
The Mangalore SEZ, it may be recalled has been mired in controversy following the hue and cry raised by environmentalists and other NGO’s who vehemently oppose the SEZ citing environmental and health hazards the project may cause. While 1800 acres of land has already been acquired there is a big hullabaloo with regard to the acquisition of the remaining 2000 acres of land. It is believed that a section of the people whose land is to be acquired for the next phase are said to be opposed to the acquisition of their land and have joined hands with those spearheading anti-SEZ movement. The SEZ authorities, however, are of the view those certain vested interests and not the actual farmers who are involved in opposing the Mangalore SEZ.
Mangalore SEZ is promoted by Central & State Govern ments, industrial groups and financial institutions. It is a 50,000 crore investment project of which 14,000 crores investment will be to develop port-based coastal activity. It is expected to generate about 4,000 to 5,000 direct employments in the 1st phase of the project which may go up to 50,000 when the project gets completed. About 800 families from the acquired land of 1800 are displaced of which 250 have been rehabilitated at the resettlement colony in Kulai and Thokur.
MANGALORE SEZ- OPERATIONAL BY 2010.
Mangalore SEZ is in complete possession of 1800 acres of land required for sector specific SEZ viz., Petroleum and Petrochemicals. Environmental clearance from these independent environmental bodies has cleared a major hurdle that bogged the project since inception and it is now going ahead with the task of establishing activities in the land in its possession, a phased manner. After acquiring the necessary additional land the project will be upgraded to a multi-product SEZ
Managing Director and CEO of MSEZL Mr I S N Prasad says “The entire project will be implemented as a fast track project over a 3-year period and would be operational by 2010. The Company has begun the basic preparations for the same by providing planned roads to provide access to industries under the target zones within the SEZ”.
Mangalore SEZ is proposed to come up in a total area of 3985 acres if land and will is located in the villages of Permude, Bajpe, Kalavaru and Thokur in Dakshina Kannada District. MSEZL has already acquired 1800 acres of land from these villages and the process of acquiring another 2000 acres of land is underway. MSEZL was incorporated in 2006 with the single purpose of developing Mangalore SEZ, so as to provide a fillip to the economic growth of Dakshina Kannada District.
Chief Operating Officer of the project Mr A G Pai pointed out “the project will give a fillip to the economic activity of this coastal area. The entire state will be benefited in the long run and piped gas and clean power to the entire state will soon become a reality”.
Reacting to the issues raised by environmentalists Mr Prasad stated “about 33% of the 3985 acres of the project land is earmarked for the development of green belt. Thousands of trees of appropriate species will be planted to grow and develop sustainable green cover to nullify or minimize environmental hazards that might be caused by implementing the project”
Environmentalists on the other hand are expressing fear about the environmental damage the project might cause on the people of this area. Vidya Dinkar, civic activists, who heads the Citizens Forum in Mangalore, says “products from refinery expansion are going to be used by downstream industries. Substances such as Benezene and Butadiene are considered to be toxic to the environment and to the public health”.
MSEZ authorities however, argue that environmental clearance would not have been accorded by the Central and State governments until they are fully satisfied after the exhaustive studies by various independent bodies.
Mr Pai brushes aside all criticism pertaining to the rehabilitation and resettlement package terming it as “one of the best in the state”. “There has been no compulsory acquisition of land or no government coercion. The farmer is free to refuse the terms offered if negotiations are not satisfactory”. The R & R package provides for one site for the head of the family and two sites for any two co-parceners. One site will be given to unmarried daughters above 35 years one to the widowed daughter in-law. Physically handicapped members will be given one site. R & R package also include developing a R & R colony in 500 acres of land with all modern amenities by investing about Rs. 560 crores. Package also includes long term training for the displaced members of the families.
Now that the state government has backtracked on the ambitious Petroleum, Chemical & Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR) there seems to be a huge sigh of relief from all those who oppose these projects. With 1800 land under its possession MSEZL is all set to make critical progress in implementing the project to make it operational within the time limit it is given.
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