labels: industry - general, economy - general
Navi Mumbai SEZ is under govt''s scanner news
22 May 2007

The 5000-hectare Navi Mumbai SEZ is under the government''s scanner. Who owns the Navi Mumbai SEZ Project? That''s the question the IT department seems to be asking. In July 2006, CNBC-TV18 had reported that Mukesh Ambani would hold majority stake in the Navi Mumbai SEZ in his personal capacity.

Sources say, that the developers of the Navi Mumbai SEZ was a consortium of Mukesh Ambani''s personal investment companies, state owned CIDCO and Nikhil Gandhi''s SKIL infrastructure who had first bid for the Mumbai SEZ in 2003.

Mukesh Ambani had picked up a majority stake in SKIL infrastructure promoted by Nikhil Gandhi in the third quarter of 2005. But now, government officials say that on the face of it, neither Reliance Industries nor Mukesh Ambani have anything to do with the project.

In fact, there now seem to be seven new companies that are waiting to get approval as co-developers of the project. These include Urban Infotech Solutions Private Limited, Urban Water Supply Private Limited, Urban Communications Infratsructure Private Limited, Urban Energy Generation Private Limited, Urban Infrastructure Constructions Private Limited, Urban Energy Transmission Private Limited, Urban Energy Distribution Private Limited.

Government sources say that on the face of it, these companies seem like shell companies without any experience in creating infrastructure. Sources also say that the IT department is likely to initiate an inquiry on the origin and role of the seven co-developers since initial screenings indicate that neither Mukesh Ambani or RIL have anything to do with the SEZ or the seven shell companies.

As per the records available with the SEZ department in the commerce ministry, Mukesh Ambani is not even on the board of the Navi Mumbai SEZ Private Limited. When contacted, the spokesperson for the Navi Mumbai SEZ, Dilip Chaware, refused to comment on any of the issues.

In the last meeting of the BoA, the Revenue department official raised serious objections regarding contiguity. Sources say a National Highway is passing through the proposed Navi Mumbai SEZ and therefore, clearance for the proposal could take longer.

The BoA has directed the customs commissioner to examine theproject and submit a report before the next board meeting scheduled for May 31st. But if more transparency on the holding structure and the contiguity issue isn''t sorted out, the project could face serious delays.

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Navi Mumbai SEZ is under govt''s scanner