New Delhi, March 21: With the government still to give final shape to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s promise of a ‘humane’ National Relief and Rehabilitation policy for the project-affected, the Commerce Ministry today notified changes in rules for special economic zones, making SEZ developers solely responsible for rehabilitation of displaced persons, indicating that state governments should steer clear of acquiring land on behalf of developers.
The notification, issued ahead of a meeting of UPA and Left leaders called by the PM, stated “the developer shall make adequate provision for rehabilitation of displaced persons as per the relief and rehabilitation policy of the state government”.
To allay fears of real estate grabbing in the name of SEZs, the Commerce Ministry has also reduced the validity of ‘in-principle’ approvals from three years to one year. This should keep out ‘speculative’ developers and ensure that developers acquire the requisite land and make good their investment promises as soon as possible or risk losing their approvals altogether.
The validity for formal approval, however, remains three years as it’s not possible for a developer to get formal approval unless the land acquisition and other formalities with the state governments are complete within a year of getting an in-principle nod from the Board of Approvals.