Mumbai: The central government has decided to put an end to compulsory land acquisition by state governments for special economic zones (SEZ) and limit the size of SEZs to 5,000 hectares.
The government also lifted the freeze on approval of pending applications where there is no land dispute.
The empowered group of ministers on SEZs also cleared 83 SEZs with no dispute and increased the processing area of the SEZs to 50 per cent of the land size.
Under the revised guidelines, compulsory acquisition of land for SEZs by the states under the Land Acquisition Act would not be allowed, leaving it to the developers to directly purchase land from farmers.
The states would be empowered to reduce the size of SEZs below the 5,000 hectare limit set by the centre.
"The decision will be applicable to all SEZs, including those which have already been notified,' commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath said after the meeting.
Of the 234 SEZs with formal approvals, 63 have already been notified, while 83 more were cleared for notification. The Board of Approvals will now take up 162 SEZs with in-principle approval and 140 pending applications.
The government is also finalising a new relief and rehabilitation policy, Nath said, adding, that under the new policy, at least one member of the displaced family would have to be employed in the project. This would be in addition to the compensation paid to farmers, he pointed out.
The decision on limiting the size is likely to affect plans of Reliance Industries which is setting up mega SEZs like Maha Mumbai and one near Gurgaon.
The move follows opposition to the SEZ policy from various political parties, including the Left and the massive protests by farmers against acquisition of farm land.