Central ‘carrot’ gathers dust


Kohima, July 22 : The first special economic zone of the Northeast is yet to become a reality even after four years, indicating that attracting investments is still a difficult proposition despite various initiatives by the authorities.
The Centre had approved the setting up of a multi-product special economic zone in Nagaland in 2007 at a cost of Rs 3,400 crore. The total area allocated was 450 hectares at Ganeshnagar near Dimapur. The Centre has released Rs 5 crore for the project till date.
Special economic zones were set up in the country to overcome the problems faced by various business units on account of multiplicity of controls and clearances and absence of world-class infrastructure, along with a view to attract larger foreign investments. The Special Economic Zones Act was passed in May 2005.
Expressing unhappiness with the tardy progress of work at the zone site, parliamentary secretary for industries and commerce K.C. Nihoshe told The Telegraph: “I am not satisfied with the progress of the work. Though some work is on, it is progressing at a slow place.”
The Centre had given two approvals for special economic zones in Nagaland — one to H.N. Company for a multi-product special economic zone (400 hectares) and the other to Nagaland Industrial Development Corporation Limited for an agro and food processing special economic zone (50 hectares).
Nihoshe, while attributing the slow progress of work to the monsoon, said, “We are hoping that works would be completed by this year.”
He said though the state government was in touch with several reputed companies from within and outside the country, no one had come forward to invest in the Ganeshnagar zone.
To attract investors, seminars were held on several occasions where representatives from several comp- anies had attended but still there were no investors, he said.
The existing Export Promotion Industrial Park (EPPI) at Ganeshnagar will be also converted into a special economic zone.
In 2008, Cona International Ltd, a South Korea-based company, had signed two memorandums of agreement with the Nagaland government for investment in industries and commerce and agro and food processing sectors.
The first agreement was signed with the department of industries and commerce and the second with Nagaland Industrial Development Corporation Limited for investment in the agro and food-processing sector.
Asked whether works by Cona International Ltd was satisfactory, he said they were not progressing at all. “We are not satisfied with their work,” he said, adding that the company had not made much progress.
He, however, expressed optimism that once the infrastructure was created, companies would flock to the zone for investment in the agro and food-processing sector.
Once a special economic zone is approved and the Centre notifies the area of the zone, companies are allowed to set up units there. All proposals for setting up units in the zone are approved at the zonal level by the approval committee comprising the development commissioner, customs authorities and representatives of the state government.
Rules say that any individual, co-operative society, company or partnership firm can file an application for setting up an unit in the zone, which comes under the ministry of commerce.
The state government had to pay more than Rs 40 lakh as compensation to the affected farmers at Ganeshnagar.
Some products being considered for the agro and food processing zone are based on pineapples, passion fruit, ba-mboo shoot, medicinal plants and aromatic herbs, including lemon grass and aloe vera.
The SEZ website, however, mentions the zone as “still not operational”.
The 2000 Industrial Policy of Nagaland aims to facilitate rapid and sustained industrial development to enable entrepreneurs to generate substantial income and employment in the state.