Manje-Gowda-Opto—Dr. Manje Gowda, Director, Opto infrastructure

What is the broad status of your Hassan and Mysore SEZ projects and when do you expect physical work to start?

We are in possession of 250 acres and 33 acres of land in our SEZs at Hassan and Mysore respectively. The works relating to development of basic infrastructure such as construction of boundary wall, installation of gates, security offices etc are complete. Internal formation is in progress.

How much investment would Opto be making in these two projects? What is the status of the financial closure?

The initial estimate of project cost is Rs.686 lakh in Hassan and in Mysore, it is Rs.89 lakh. Bankers and financial institutions are ready to fund the projects once the clients are finalized.

Discuss the logistical advantages of the two SEZ projects in terms of land, sea and air connectivity.

The Hassan SEZ is located at a prime location in the midst of Hassan. It is in an industrial growth centre and adjoins Hassan town. The plot is surrounded by wide KIADB roads on three sides. It is also connected to NH 48, a link road between Bangalore and port City Mangalore directly with a four lane approach road. NH 48 is just about 1 km from the SEZ. The site is at a distance of only 0.25 km from Mysore—Hassan state highway. The approach road to this highway is 80ft wide. Sea connectivity exists from Mangalore port that is about 165 jn from site. With respect to air connectivity, Bangalore and Mangalore international airport are within 180 km of distance. This SEZ is part of a larger SEZ totaling about 750 acres where other industries are already operational.

The Mysore SEZ is also at a prime location in the midst of industrial growth centre of Mysore district. The plot is at about 500m distance from NH 212 connected through wide approach road. The site is about 18 km from Mysore; the railway station is about 1 Km from the project site. Airport is about 8 km from the project location. Some of the leading industries surrounding the project site are AT & S, Nestle, Arvind Mills, FILS, Reid & Taylor, TVS Motors etc. Mysore has many world class educational institutions and training centers generating large number of professionals in different disciplines. Mangalore sea port is around 225 km from site offering sea connectivity. With respect to air connectivity, Mysore already has an airport and the Bangalore airport is about 150 km from the SEZ site.

What role can SEZs play in realizing the government’s “Make in India” vision?

Globally the SEZs concept has contributed greatly to manufacturing activities and also to exports, of those countries. If SEZs are encouraged with true spirit in India, I am sure that these can be the major contributor “The Make in India” vision.

Though the Central government as well as state governments are providing support to SEZs, would you recommend key policy changes to boost the SEZ movement in India?

The SEZs scheme, when initially announced by the government, was quite encouraging and attracted a huge attention of industrial and business communities. Unfortunately, the following factors contributed negatively and the initial motivation was somehow diminished.

  • The Indian government withdrew certain important benefits such as exemption of Minimum Alternate Tax and Dividend Distribution Tax (MAT & DDT) which were part of original SEZ scheme. This action was taken prematurely even before many SEZ projects ever implemented. This has created huge setback for both SEZ developers and units.
  • Although SEZs are governed by Central government acts, implementation is not uniform throughout the country due to the state government’s own rules. Policy implementation should be uniform so as to avoid geographical disparity.

According to information available, there are nearly 200 SEZs operating in India today. It is argued that most SEZs do not qualify to be called SEZ going by parameters like size, infrastructure support, etc. Also, what is your view on the fiscal incentives policy for SEZs?

I feel the SEZs which are operational confine to the rules and the regulations laid down by the government. The policy flip-flop by the government in extending financial incentives has been the main dampener for the development of SEZs.

Apart from SEZs, we understand that Opto Infrastructure would also be engaging in developing business hotels and townships. Tell us more in brief.

As a part of infrastructure sector Opto infrastructure Ltd plans to enter hospitality sector. As a first step a business hotel conforming to five star standards is being implemented by the company at Electronic City Bangalore.

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