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The Union government has given a green signal for setting up India's first mega coastal economic zone (CEZ) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Maharashtra to increase manufacturing activities and create more jobs in the country.

Close to 45 companies from the telecom, auto and IT sectors will soon bid for 200 hectares of land to start manufacturing units in the zone. The move will see an investment of Rs 15,000 crore in the first phase and will create more than 1.5 lakh jobs, the Economic Times reported.

The first mega CEZ will stretch along north Konkan region spread across Nashik, Thane, Mumbai, Pune and Raigarh.
"The idea is to attract large firms interested in serving the export markets as they would bring with them technology, capital, good management and links to the world markets," said an official aware of the development.

The official also said that the move would also help to create an ecosystem around them that will help small and medium term companies to emerge and grow.

Last year, the Union Cabinet had approved setting up 14 mega CEZs under the National Perspective Plan of the Sagarmala Programme. The National Perspective Plan was crafted on April 2016 after detailed discussions with key stakeholders in the central and state governments, public and private companies.

According to the Ministry of Shipping, the Sagarmala Plan will substantially reduce export-import and domestic trade costs with minimal investment. The key objective of the project is to develop port infrastructure in India will boost transport to and from ports.

Further, reports also suggest that the project will lower cost of multi-modal logistics by as much as Rs 40,000 crore, boost productivity and is further expected to increase the country's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by two percentage points.

These mega costal economic zones are also expected to advance ease of doing business, provide speedy water and electricity connections, besides ease of exporting and importing.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Port is one of the busiest cargo ports in India and also has enough land space to allow manufacturing activities to grow. The port holds more than 40 percent of India's export-import volumes.