Surat SEZ sets Rs 1,000 cr. export target for next year
By Harish Rao
The Surat Special Economic Zone (SurSEZ) is the first and only operating SEZ in the private sector in India. Previously an export processing zone, which was almost defunct, it was converted into a special economic zone in 2000 when the government introduced the concept of SEZ in the country. SurSEZ is ideally located on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad railway line next to Sachin railway station and close to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad national highway.
SurSEZ is a pioneer and a pathfinder in the field of special economics zones: It has achieved this distinction after a lot of hardship. As S.N. Sharma, Chairman, SurSEZ, explains: "Since ours was the first SEZ and there were no laws relating to SEZs we had to face a lot of delay. The SEZ was developed when these rules were being evolved. For the new SEZs which are coming up there are no such problems as the government is all set to come out with the SEZ Act soon." According to Sharma, the task of setting up an SEZ has become simpler with the cooperation of various organisations. "We had certain advantages when we set up the SEZ. Ours was an existing EPZ and its conversion to an SEZ was easy. Further, our location is ideal as it is situated between Vapi and Baroda. The success of the SEZ is due to perseverance. Management skills of the local people are also partially responsible. All the government officials whom we had to deal with were cooperative."
The Surat SEZ has successfully overcome the initial hiccups as is evident from the ever-growing exports from the Zone. During 2002-03, the total exports from SurSEZ were Rs 290 crore. During the first 10 months of the current year our exports turnover is Rs 576 crore. "For the next year we have kept a target of Rs 1,000 crore export turnover," Sharma says confidently.
Currently, the SEZ has 270 acres of land of which 120 acres is processing area. Another 130 acres will soon be converted into processing area and customs permission is awaited; 85 per cent of the land is already occupied. More than 70 units are working in the Zone. About 120 units have got letters of permission; another 40 have applied for LOP. All the units operating in the Zone are non-polluting.
"We are already in talks with GIDC for acquiring additional land. Discussions are in initial stages. A decision is expected to be arrived at by this year-end," Sharma adds.
(16-29 Feb 04)