RTTNews - The commerce ministry is taking steps to reduce the time taken to develop Special Economic Zones or SEZs by simplifying procedures to get the tax-free industrial enclaves notified, media reports said.

By simplifying the procedures, developers will now be able to get their land classified as an SEZ at the initial stage of approval by submitting legal documents as proof of land ownership.

In the past, formal approval was given based on a statement by a developer confirming possession of land and original documents are not required at this level of approval. Subsequently, the developer had to furnish a series of documents including proof of ownership of land, a non-encumbrance certificate and vacancy and contiguity certificates to get the zone notified. Now, all these documents will have to be submitted at the first stage.

Experts point out that the move will help serious zone developers, since only firms that actually own the land will now apply. Besides, it will also ensure quick flow of investments in to the zones. Moreover, the pace of job creation in the zones will also become faster.

Since 2006, around 550 SEZs have been given formal approval. But the commerce ministry was concerned that only 320 were notified, because many of the developers adopted a wait and watch policy in the wake of the global economic crisis, the release said.

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