Bhairahawa SEZ still a distant dream

- Madhav Dhungana, Bhairahawa
Bhairahawa SEZ still a distant dream

Oct 18, 2014-

Despite senior bureaucrats and ministers making efforts to bring into operation the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Bhairahava, no concrete result has come so far. The project spread over 55 bighas of land was initiated 14 years ago.

The government has said more than 95 percent of the construction work has been completed, but the lack of relevant laws has been delaying its completion. An 11-member SEZ Development Committee under the leadership of the Industry secretary has been formed to look after the issue, and the Cabinet has also endorsed the operation manuals and working procedure of the Bhairahawa SEZ.

The government says it is preparing to start the operation of the SEZ in mid-November. In the absence of the SEZ Act, the government is preparing to bring the SEZ into operation through a directive whose preparation is in final stages, according to government officials.

After the project was initiated in 2000, the Ministry of Industry conducted a detailed study on the project in 2005. The government has awarded contracts to more than a dozen private companies to construct different structures within the SEZ.

“The project has not completed as the construction period lengthened due to different reasons,” said Narayan Regmi, engineer at the project. “As per the master plan of the project, 95 percent of the construction work has already been completed.”

Although infrastructure like water treatment plant, overhead tank, sewage drain and electrification have already completed, they are in a dilapidated state.

Apart from the job of land acquisition, the project should have been completed in fiscal year 2008-09 with an investment of Rs 510 million. The delay in the construction has also increased the project’s cost. According to Regmi, the cost of construction materials is increasing 10 percent annually. “As a result, the project will cost Rs 620-630 million by the time it completes,” he said.

As the project has more technical jobs than administrative, most of the staffers are not available in the project site. Even simple tasks like opening an information office has not been arranged, forcing information seekers to get information through telephone or by visiting staffers’ residence.

Khagendra Sharma, acting secretary of Siddharthanagar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said industrialists from different parts of the country make frequent inquiries over issues like such as what kinds of industries can be operated in SEZ, what are the available facilities and who should be contacted for operating an industry in the SEZ. “How can we respond to such queries when there is not an information desk?” asked Sharma. The government has allocated 52 plots inside the SEZ for industries.

According to the government, industries that would export at least 85 percent of their products can operate within the SEZ. Such industries will also enjoy tax exemption for a certain period of time and will get services like banking, customs and quarantine among others. Industrialists are also attracted towards SEZ as they should not face problems like strikes, protests and load-shedding, among others.

Saroj Kumar Vaidya, officiating executive director of the project, said the administrative and service buildings will be inaugurated within mid-November. He said they aim to send a proposal to industrialists within mid-December. It will take a couple of years for industries to begin functioning since they also need to do construction.

Published: 19-10-2014 09:55

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