Mega Employment Zones Plan Gets Niti Approval

The government’s plan for 14 mega national employment zones in the country moved a step forward with the project appraisal and management division of Niti Aayog giving its go-ahead to the ₹1 lakh crore proposal of the shipping ministry.

The project will now be taken up by the Cabinet for consideration, following which bids will be invited from manufacturers to set up bases in the one-of-its-kind mega zones. The project, when rolled out, could be a game changer for the government as it is expected to give employment to 10 million youth in the country over the next five years.

The plan is to give fiscal and non-fiscal incentives such as tax holidays, capital subsidy and single-window clearance among others directly linked to the number of jobs created by players willing to set up manufacturing bases in these employment specific zones.

The 14 employment zones will be built in coastal states on the special purpose vehicle route. These zones will have 35 industrial clusters across sectors such as food, cement, furniture and electronics, besides traditional labour intensive sectors such as garments, leather and gems & jewellery.

Initial estimate suggests that setting up requisite infrastructure in these zones would require ₹1 lakh crore, which will be shared by the Centre and states, with the latter providing at least 2,000 acres of contiguous land for setting up such zones in each of the identified states. Besides, India can also seek funding from multilateral agencies for the mega project as it estimates these zones will attract an investment of up to ₹4 lakh crore.

The focus is also to provide infrastructure status to these employment zones to help industries secure long-term easy finance for setting up bases and expanding operations.

Setting up of the national employment zones is part of the government’s macro vision for port-led industrialisation in the country. The idea is to give a push to ‘Make in India’ while developing India as a hub for port-led industrial activities.

The 14 proposed sites are Kachchh, Suryapur and Saurashtra in Gujarat; North and South Konkan in Maharashtra; Dakshin Kanara in Karnataka; Malabar in Kerala; Mannar, VCIC South and Poompuhar in Tamil Nadu; VCIC Central and North in Andhra; Kalinga in Odisha; and Gaud in West Bengal.

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