MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government plans to introduce a 'SEZ Prevention of Land Speculation Bill' during the forthcoming monsoon session to free up more than 25,000 acres of land acquired for Special Economic Zones (SEZ) across the state.
In its yet to be released housing policy, the state housing department has proposed issuing notices to developers to start industrial productions in SEZs within 24 months, failing which the state government will free up the land and use it for affordable housing schemes.
"The industrial activity must cover more than 50 per cent of SEZ land acquired. In case the developer fails to do so, the entire balance land will stand vested with the state government which will reimburse the cost of such land to the developer at the same rate at which it was originally acquired by the SEZ developer using government machinery.
"Thereafter, it will be used to provide affordable housing," the draft policy stated.
Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA), which was asked to recommend norms for the state government's new housing policy stated that as per the 2011 census, out of 3.36 crore houses in Maharashtra, 2.98 crore houses are in use.
A National Housing Bank (NHB) survey revealed that Maharashtra's housing shortage was 1.94 million houses in 2012-13.
An official from the state housing department said that more than 25,000 acres of land across Maharashtra was notified for acquisition under the emergency clause of the erstwhile Land Acquisition Act 1888 on behalf of private SEZ developers.
Out of this, more than 10,000 acres of land was acquired by paying compensation.
"Most of this land was acquired near urban centres and a substantial portion of this land is also situated within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
"Most SEZ developers have not put the land to use for the purpose it was originally acquired. The land continues to remain unused and SEZ developers squat on the land in the hope of selling it as and when the market improves," the official said.