http://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/article1517060.ece South India is way ahead of other regions in encashing on the tax-free special economic zones scheme as 79 of 130 functional Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are located in four southern states. Among southern states, Andhra Pradesh is on the top of the table with a maximum number of 32 operational SEZs followed by Tamil Nadu (22), Karnataka (20) and Kerala (7), according to latest government data. The sector-wise data shows that out of 130 operational SEZs, an overwhelming 75 of them relate to IT/ITeS and electronic hardware. â€œAn investment of Rs. 1.95 lakh crore has been made in SEZs,â€ Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. In all, 582 SEZ proposals have been approved, while 374 have been notified. â€œA total of 130 SEZs have commenced exports,â€ he said. The sector-wise analysis shows that the SEZ scheme became very popular with the IT/ITeS and electronic hardware sector. One of the reasons for the rush of these sectors in SEZs was stated to be the sunset clause on earlier schemes like Software Technology Parks of India (STPI). The tax exemptions on STPI are coming to an end at the end of the current financial year. While uncertainty about tax exemptions has also gripped the SEZ promoters, the Commerce Ministry is lobbying hard for the continuation of the benefits to the SEZs, which are contributing 26 per cent of the countryâ€™s total exports. Besides the southern states, Gujarat and Maharashtra have also been pro-active in development of SEZs. Maharashtra has 16 functional tax free enclaves and Gujarat has 13. SEZs have also come up in sectors like textiles, engineering, gems and jewellery and pharmaceuticals.