sez-3All may not be lost for the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance group, which recently lost a legal battle for acquisition of land for its Rs 25,000 crore special economic zone in Raigad district. The Centre’s move to amend the SEZ rules to provide for a third extension to facilitate land acquisition will give a fresh lease of life to the crisis-ridden project. What will the farmers of Raigad sit quiet of this silent betrayal of the country to one of their own? A proposal to grant third extension for acquisition of land for Reliance Mahamumbai SEZ project is said to have been discussed at length. Now, the Board of Approvals has recommended that in view of difficulties faced by promoters for acquiring contiguous land within three years, the validity period should be extended beyond three years. As per the SEZ rules 2006, the inprinciple approval for an SEZ project was valid for one year and can be extended for another two years. It was found that following the empowered group of ministers’ decision to prohibit compulsory acquisition of land, it was difficult for the promoters, in this case Reliance, to acquire contiguous land within a stipulated period. The Mahamumbai-SEZ, promoted by the Reliance group, was granted in-principle approval in August 8, 2003. When it failed to acquire 10,000 hectares by August 3, 2008, it was asked to complete the exercise by August 7, 2009. As per the existing rules, since there was no provision for granting third extension, Reliance group moved the apex court after its petition was rejected. The Supreme Court, too, rejected its plea. Later, the group filed a fresh special leave petition, but withdrew it on December 7, 2009. Ever since the Reliance group initiated a proposal for land acquisition, local farmers have strongly opposed it. And while nothing has deterred the farmers, social activist Ulka Mahajan had said that the farmers in Raigad are ready to give their life for their ancestoral land. With bureau inputs, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.

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