October 18, 2009

West Bengal Govt to go ahead with Nayachar chemical hub plans

KOLKATA,17th October,2009: The Lok Sabha poll reverses notwithstanding, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government hasn't given up on its industrialization hopes around the proposed chemical hub at Nayachar. It is readying to draft a changed agreement for the Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR).

The chief minister convened a high-level meeting at Writers' Buildings on Friday to do the needful. Among those who attended were other members of the Cabinet sub-committee on industries finance minister Asim Dasgupta and industries minister Nirupam Sen. Others present were land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah, urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, Left Front chief whip in the state Assembly, Md Masin, and industries secretary Sabyasachi Sen.

According to sources, the meeting was on several industry-related issues, including the PCPIR. Nandigram had figured prominently as the venue for the mega chemical industrial estate and the PCPIR that was to come up near Haldia when the plan was first floated in 2005, and the subsequent agreement was drafted on these lines. After the bloody resistance to the choice of venue (which, experts feel, was a major cause for the Left's reverses), the government has decided to keep its promises unchanged, keeping an eye on the 2011 Assembly elections.

Nayachar is a 64 sqkm island on the Hooghly in East Midnapore. Prasoon Mukherjee, director of New Kolkata International Development (NKID) which through a joint venture with the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) is to develop the infrastructure on the island had earlier said the PCPIR is an expense account for NKID, but the government is bent on going ahead with the project.
A senior Writers' official revealed that the revised agreement, with Nayachar as the changed venue, will now have to be clinched between the state, the Centre and NKID. He said those attending the meeting discussed the draft as well as other industry-related issues, such as granting subsidy to Cals Refinery, which will partner the PCPIR. NKID is a 50:50 joint venture between Mukherjee's Universal Success Enterprises Limited, a company registered in Singapore, and Indonesia's Salim Group. Real estate developer Unitech Limited also had a minority equity interest in NKID, but it has recently sold its stake in the firm.

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