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In what could be a big blow to Surat's ambitions of emerging as a hub of jewellery export, the Gujarat Hira Bourse (GHB) is likely to seek de-notification of its Gem & Jewellery SEZ in the Diamond City.

In case GHB decides to surrender SEZ status, it would join a long list of developers in the state who have either de-notified or are planning to seek de-notification of their SEZs.

"We are considering surrendering SEZ status of Ichhapore Gem & Jewellery SEZ. The SEZs are not attractive any more for businesses due to withdrawal of tax benefits and other incentives," Nanu Vanani, secretary, Gujarat Hira Bourse (GHB), said.

Vanani, who is also a BJP MLA, however, added that a final decision about seeking de-notification of the SEZ has not been taken yet.

The de-notification of the SEZ would be a major setback for ambitions to make Surat the hub of jewellery exports. Surat is already the hub of diamond manufacturing, and a similar position in jewellery, would have added to the city's dominance in the global gem & jewellery business.

Spread over 100 hectares, the Gem & Jewellery Park comprises SEZ and Domestic Tariff Area (DTA). It is coming up in Ichhapore, just a few km from Surat city. The park is expected to house 300 plus jewellery manufacturing units, which would employ some 1.25 lakh people.

Gujarat Hira Bourse president, Chandrakant Sanghavi, however, denied that there are plans to surrender SEZ status of the gem & jewellery park.

Vanani exuded confidence that even if SEZ status is surrendered, it would not have any impact on total investment in the park, which is expected to cross Rs5,500-Rs6,000 crore.

"Instead of SEZ, unit owners will set up units in DTA. So we do not expect any adverse impact as far as overall investments are concerned," he said further.

Announced in 2004, the park was expected to become operational in three to four years. However, it ran into one delay after another. The GHB has so far spent close to Rs200 crore for the project. The basic infrastructure at the park is now in place, and seven units are currently under construction.

"Six jewellery units are coming up in the DTA, while one is under construction in the SEZ area. These units are likely to commerce operations soon," said Vanani.