A committee under the Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has rejected GMR group's request to convert its aviation SEZ at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here into a multi-sector SEZ.

GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL) cited poor response from the aviation companies for setting up shops in aviation SEZ as the reason to convert it into a multi-product SEZ.

However, the Expert Appraisal Committee under the Ministry felt conversion of the aviation SEZ, which is close to the runway, into the planned multi-product SEZ, may attract birds which may become hazardous to aircraft at airport.

The infra major said the GMR Aerospace and Industrial Park, spread in the layout of 253.85 acres, has an occupancy rate of just 11 per cent over the last six years, and if allowed to convert into a multi-product SEZ, within 3-4 years it will be fully operational.

"The committee also felt that bird hazard is a serious concern for aviation sector and comprehensive study must be done by a reputed institution such as SACON, not just for airport, but also for SEZ areas, especially due the fact that multi-sector SEZ can become heaven for birds and if not planned well, can have serious risks to aircraft.

In view of the deliberations, the EAC was not inclined to consider the proposal anymore, and asked the project proponent to withdraw the same," the EAC said in a meeting held last month.

When contacted, a GHIAL spokesperson said they will study the order of the EAC and take steps.

"We will study the order and take necessary steps as required," the spokesperson told PTI, while offering no comments for the poor response for the aviation SEZ.

The proposal is an upgradation of the existing sector specific SEZ to multi-sector SEZ to meet the business feasibility and industrial interests received from prospective SEZ customers.

"GHIAL's SEZ has seen limited growth during last 6 years and is presently operating at just 11 per cent occupancy.

"With the revised sector focus, it is perceived that GHIAL would be able to capitalise upon the opportunities in next 3-5 years to make the SEZ fully operational with diverse but coherent industrial units, that will in long run provide requisite impetus to develop the region as an economic hub of Hyderabad with airport city as it core," the EAC said quoting GMR's proposal.

GMR said the multi-product SEZ will have industrial units/activities relating to aviation, pharma, gems and jewellery and electronics, among others. No additional land is required as part of the proposed conversion.