Panaji: Setting up seven Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Goa would have resulted in immigration and doubled the population of the state and threatened its unique culture, a state minister said Tuesday.
In a written reply to a question in the state assembly, Industries Minister Mahadev Naik said that Goa was not ready to handle a huge influx of immigrants, who would have been attracted to work in the SEZs.
"The uniqueness of Goa is its peace-loving citizens and blended culture. Had SEZs been allowed to set foot in Goa, the identity of the state as well as public peace would have been threatened," Naik said.
"The initiative would have generated jobs which would have led to the large-scale influx of people in Goa and it was possible that the population of Goa would have been doubled... Goa`s population then was about 14 lakh," Naik added.
The Goa government scrapped the SEZ policy in 2008 after a string of protests by civil society and the then chief minister Digambar Kamat defending the "public outcry".
SEZ promoters -- Meditab Specialities Pvt. Ltd., Cipla group, Peninsular Pharma Research Ltd., Paradigm Logistic and Distributors, Planetview Mercantile Pvt. Ltd., Inox Mercentile Pvt. Ltd., and M/s Maxgrow -- who had been allotted 32 lakh sq metres of land, were asked to halt all work within a year.
The companies have now challenged the government`s order of scrapping the SEZ policy in the court.
Naik also admitted that Goa neither had the water nor power resources to handle large scale industrialisation brought in by the SEZs.
"The seven approved applications required about 250 MW of power, which could not be provided by the government. The water requirement of about 16 MLD (million litres a day) was not immediately available," Naik said.