Notwithstanding, the relief rally in the stock market , the real estate sector has not much to cheer about yet. The country’s largest property firm DLF which has been facing credit crunch like most of its smaller peers, is now said to have approached the government to surrender five of its nine IT-ITeS notified special economic zones (SEZ), according to a PTI report quoting a senior Commerce Ministry official.
As per the SEZ Act, the tax-free enclaves cannot be surrendered once they become operational. DLF, however, has not started work on the five SEZs that it wants to surrender. Its nine notified SEZs are located in various states.
According to official data, the land bank of DLF’s nine notified SEZs include 10.61 hectares near Hyderabad, 10.12 hectares in Gandhinagar, 12.06 hectares and 10.73 hectares in Gurgaon, 10.24 hectares in Sonepat, 10.33 hectares in Pune, 10.23 hectares in Bhubaneswar, 13.29 hectares in Kanchipuram and 10.48 hectares in Kolkata. It is not clear which SEZs are now sought to be cancelled.
Realty firms have been facing credit crunch which had forced them to shelve some projects. DLF had earlier surrendered its 40-acre IT SEZ in central Delhi and Parsvanath had put on hold its 12 IT/ITeS SEZ projects.
The government has till date given formal approval to 571 SEZ projects and notified about 270. Firms cutting across sectors rallied to announce SEZ projects when the economy was growing very fast and stock markets were on a high. Many analysts saw it as a mere strategy to profit by procuring cheap land to be sold later.
It all changed last year after the market crash followed by serious liquidity problem. Most of the promoters of SEZs have either dropped plans of further development or postponed plans indefinitely as there are no takers for setting up greenfield units in these zones nor are there lenders who are ready to provide debt.