The Department of Commerce has completed most of the procedures related to setting up special economic zones online to streamline various operations regarding these industrial enclaves.These steps will not only help the developers of the tax-free zones apply through a website but will enable them to track the status of their applications in real time.

“This will bring down the processing time of the SEZ applications. The online process is transparent as well as the developers will be able to track the status of the applications online,” said SB Singhal, director general of Export Promotion Council for Export-Oriented Units and Special Economic Zones.

Currently, developers have to send SEZ-related applications to the Department of Commerce, after which the inter-ministerial Board of Approval, headed by Commerce Secretary Gopal K Pillai, takes a call on them.

Apart from applying online for setting up SEZs, developers can also send requests for other issues related to the zones. These issues are also cleared by BoA.

“At present, more than 530 zones with land have been formally approved, while about 140 others have been given in-principle approval. With the new online system, the Department of Commerce will also be able to track data related to the large number of zones better,” added Singhal.

To avail this facility, the The zones will have to first register themselves with the website,, and send printed copies of the application form to the commerce department. The developer will then be issued a user id and a password, which will allow it to track the status of the application online.

The SEZ Act and its associated rules became operational in February 2006 and provides a host of direct and indirect tax related benefits to promote export of goods and services. At last count, 270 SEZs have been notified, which means they have started construction work.

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