Spatiality, Governance and Development Imaginations of SEZs in India.

Sudeshna Mitra  | 2017


This chapter examines Indian SEZs as a spatial development model, which received state-sanction for public and private land aggregation, as an economic model, which targeted external investors through spatial and legal exceptions, and as a governance model within the context of rescaled state power and competitive regional governments, after liberalisation. The pathways, politics and emergent spaces and economies of SEZs highlight state governments (and to a lesser extent the national government) prioritizing SEZs to lay claim to territorial sovereignty at the local level, within a fractured milieu of regional identity politics, often negotiating territorial claims with local community groups, land owners and developers. These territorial claims reveal a governance gap created by rural- centric, sectoral and aspatial economic planning and spatial and non- economic planning in urban areas. However, in effect, these claims have been mediated by historic relationships between the government, local capital and local landowners. Without ‘place’ specific economic planning and deep-seated and generally accessible economic reforms, such preferential negotiations have often exacerbated social and economic fragmentations. The chapter concludes by highlighting the need for nuanced engagement with local land and labour dynamics, such as the growing significance of low and medium-sized cities, informality, role of women, the land tenure spectrum and entry barriers for small and medium scale enterprises.
A copy of the book is available at the IIHS library for reference.