Special Correspondent

“Fishermen would loose livelihoods to project in Nayachar”

Chief Minister had shifted a portion of the proposed project to Nayachar island in 2008

Rest of the project would be located on the mainland at Haldia

Kolkata: The West Bengal Government on Wednesday ruled out the cancellation of the chemical hub project in the State’s Purba Medinipur district.

“There is neither any proposal nor any possibility of cancelling this project,” Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said in response to persistent queries by reporters on whether a fisheries hub and eco-tourism projects would be set up on Nayachar, an island within the project area.

When the same question was posed before the State Industries Minister Nirupam Sen at the secretariat, he quipped “why should we give land for any other purpose?” Mr. Chakraborty said that he was not aware if the project envisaged setting up of tourism resorts.

The Petroleum Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR) project here is scheduled to come up over 204 square km of land of which the Nayachar Island forms a part. The rest of the project would be located on the mainland at Haldia about 150 km from here, where many such industries are already located.

The West Bengal PCPIR was one of the three such projects in the country which have been approved by the Centre (the other two being in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat). It is likely to attract an investment of around Rs.94,000 crore, with an anchor investor and many ancillary industries.

A portion of the proposed PCPIR project was shifted to this 60 square km island in 2008 after Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee ruled out setting up the project at Nandigram, near Haldia, saying the government would relocate the project if the locals were against it.

New Kolkata International Development Pvt. Ltd. (an equal joint venture between a Singapore-based company run by a Bengali NRI and Salim Group of Malaysia) is partnering the State’s apex industry promotion agency, the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, to set up the necessary infrastructure for the project.

However even as the State Government proceeds with the project, the Trinamool Congress MP from the region has already expressed reservation about the project saying that many fishermen would loose their livelihoods to the project and the area was better suited for an eco-tourism project.

A debate is also on about the project’s viability following the relocation.