After years of effort, the Maharashtra government’s plan to set up the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) is still far-fetched since it is yet to cross the first hurdle – to get a special economic zone (SEZ) tag. The last time the government applied to the Centre for approval was in 2017 when Devendra Fadnavis was chief minister.
Making matters worse, 14 hectares of the 50.31 hectares earmarked for IFSC were handed over to the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL) in the first week of this month. The land will be used to build the underground terminus for the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.
However, officials are hopeful.
Bhushan Gagrani, additional chief secretary, chief minister office, said the IFSC project is on the pipeline and they are waiting for the terminus to get completed. “Once the terminus is ready, the entire land can be used for constructing the IFSC building.”
The state has put a condition that the feasibility of the proposed IFSC should not be compromised. “NHSRCL has designed the BKC station as an integrated structure. It means the IFSC building can come up above the underground terminus,” an official from the urban development department said.
In January 2017, the state made an application seeking the proposed land at BKC to be declared an SEZ. In October, the union ministry of commerce and industry responded that the BKC plot did not qualify as it did not have the requisite 50 hectares of contiguous land needed as per the provisions of the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005.
Officials said the condition of 50 hectares of contiguous land was required for manufacturing purposes. “But IFSC has nothing to do with manufacturing as it is all about financial services. Despite pointing this out, the minister of commerce and industry is not ready to understand,” another official from the urban development department, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
Gagrani is confident that the land earmarked for the project will be declared an SEZ and it will happen soon.
An international finance centre would attract multinational companies to set up shops in the city, which would in turn generate revenue and jobs.