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Centre can review all Goa SEZs: Nath
January 03, 2008 17:04 IST
In sharp contrast to the stand taken by his secretary yesterday, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath on Thursday said the Centre can review all special economic zones in Goa as it does not want to thrust SEZs on the states.
"Centre can review all Goa SEZs," Nath told reporters after meeting Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat in Delhi.
Nath said there was "absolute provision" in the SEZ Act for everything, including review of the notified zones.
Commerce secretary Gopal Pillai had said on Wednesday the Centre cannot de-notify three SEZs from Goa since they had become "legal entities" after their notification.
Kamat said the state government would send the formal communication to the Centre by next Monday. "Ground realities are different. By and large, people (of Goa) do not want SEZ," Kamat said, adding the state government would go as per law.
Goa government had on December 31 scrapped all 15 SEZs, including the notified ones, following widespread protests from the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
Earlier on Thursday, Kamat left for New Delhi to hold talks with the Congress leadership to seek help to end the special economic zone row in the state.
A day after the Goa government announced scrapping of all the 15 SEZ projects in the state, including three already notified, the Centre questioned the decision.
The Union commerce ministry on Wednesday refused to denotify the three SEZs, raising prospects of fresh trouble in the coastal state where anti-SEZ groups had been vehemently protesting against setting up of the trade zones.
The protesters, including a section of the ruling Congress and some other political parties, had put their agitation on hold after the state government's decision.
Sources close to chief minister's office had said that Kamat, along with MP Shantaram Naik, would meet the Congress leaders in Delhi to seek their intervention to resolve the sensitive matter.
Naik, who was critical of the Centre's decision not to denotify SEZs, said the statement by Union commerce secretary "absurd, fallacious and illogical."
Issuing a notification is an executive decision which can be changed if public interest demands, he pointed out.
"Our legal system is not watertight compartment, and it has its inherent flexibilities. The authority which has the power to issue the notification, also has the power to withdraw it," the Congress MP said.
Meanwhile, partners in the ruling alliance, who are also opposing the SEZs have adopted a 'wait and watch' approach, thereby giving time to the Chief Minister to solve the issue.
Anti-SEZ groups say the zones will put heavy burden on infrastructure and change the demography of the tiny state as people from other states will migrate here in large numbers. Also, the SEZs will occupy large tracts of land in the coastal state and create very few jobs for the locals, they say.