Gulf Finance gets in-principle environment clearance from Maharashtra

The Islamic investment bank has received an in-principle environmental approval from the Maharashtra government for its $10-billion Economic Development Zone at Panvel near Navi Mumbai

Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House (GFH), an Islamic investment bank, on Tuesday said that it has received an in-principle environmental approval from the Maharashtra government for its $10-billion Economic Development Zone (EDZ) near Panvel in neighbouring Navi Mumbai.

"We have got verbal approval from the concerned state agency. We expect to get the order soon," GFH chairman, Dr Esam Janahi, told PTI.

"The State Environment Appraisal Committee (SEAC) has reviewed the presentations made to it by the company and has also undertaken a visit to the site. All information requested by the SEAC has been satisfactorily provided and the company expects to receive the formal approval very soon," he said.

The EDZ near Panvel is promoted by a consortium led by GFH. It has three distinct components —Energy City, IT & Telecom City and Entertainment City. On completion of this state-of-the-art project, it will generate over one million direct and indirect employment opportunities, Dr Janahi said.

"This project is expected to provide direct employment to over 2,50,000 people and indirect employment to as many as 7,50,000 people," he said.

The company has almost completed the land acquisition for the first phase, he said. "As of date, around 1,650 acres of land have been acquired out of which 1,525 acres of land have been acquired privately. On completion, the project will house around 1,40,000 residents," he said.

Based on the overall response to the project so far, he said, "In the future, we may think of acquiring more land provided it is available without displacing the existing villages. The compensation package was in line with the government circle rates and in many cases even exceeds the circle rates."

The EDZ land area will not be ring-fenced from the point of view of customs and tax angles and the land title within the EDZ will be transferable on completion of the infrastructure development, he said.

The funding is partly through debt and equity, he said, adding that domestic financial institutions have been approached to raise the debt.

"The entire land has been funded through equity and a part of the infrastructure development is being undertaken through debt. We have approached domestic financial institutions for funding of the infrastructure development. The debt portion envisaged as of now will be less than the equity component," he said.

The Dubai crisis would not have any impact on the implementation of the project, Dr Janahi said, adding that "the fundamentals of the project remain intact and largely independent of the developments in Dubai.”

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