The Maharashtra government is likely to slightly extend the eastern boundary of the Bandra Kurla Complex for it to be able to show a contiguous area of 50 hectares, the minimum requirement for a multi-services Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
Carving an SEZ in the Bandra Kurla Complex is essential for it to be declared as an International Finance Services Centre (IFSC), an ambitious plan that was first conceived nearly nine years ago and was gathering dust since then till the BJP-led state government decided to revive it.
A senior official of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) said, “We are scrambling to reach the 50-hectare figure in contiguous land in the Bandra Kurla Complex for it to be eligible for an SEZ.
There is about 4 hectares of state government land on the Kurla side that is contiguous to the G Text Block. We will request the urban development department to notify it as part of the business district.”
The G Text Block in the Bandra Kurla Complex is where the MMRDA, which is the special planning agency for the business district, has kept aside 20 hectares for an IFSC. An IFSC is a designated area that is outside the jurisdiction of the domestic economy and permits the flow of financial services and products across borders with ease. SEZs are specifically delineated areas with an aim to attract Foreign Direct Investment.
The official said the G Text Block itself has a total land parcel of about 34 hectares, including physical infrastructure such as roads.
There is also a recreational ground of about 10 hectares adjoining the 4-hectare land near the MTNL junction on the Kurla side of the complex that the MMRDA is looking to bring under its jurisdiction to expand the total contiguous area to reach the 50-hectare mark.
“We are identifying the remaining two hectares to have a total of 50 hectares. We have discussed the plan with Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha as well as officials from the ministry of trade and commerce. They have agreed to the rough plan in principle,” the official said.
Sinha, who has lived in Mumbai and used to work in the Bandra Kurla Complex, is head of a joint task force with state and Union government members in it to steer the plan for an IFSC in Mumbai. Sinha was also the first Union government minister to declare support for revival of the IFSC plan in Mumbai.
The state government was earlier pushing the Union government to relax norms and allow MMRDA to consider 50 hectares in built-up area instead of absolute land for an SEZ in the Bandra Kurla Complex.
Mumbai was originally positioned as an IFSC a decade ago. Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram announced a regional financial centre in Mumbai 10 years ago in the 2005 Budget and an expert committee headed by Percy Mistry submitted a report to back it. But the concept did not take off until earlier this year when GIFT City got the backing as India’s first IFSC.