The West Bengal government proposed on Monday Nayachar island on the Hooghly river, off Haldia, as the new destination for the state's chemical hub project that was derailed following an unrest in Nandigram over farmland acquisition.
Of the three options suggested by the consultancy firm appointed by the CPI(M) government, Nayachar was feasible since it was government land, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirupam Sen said at an all-party meeting amid boycott by the main opposition Trinamool Congress.
Around 11,000 acres of land was available in the area and the proposed chemical hub would require around 10,000 acres, Sen said, adding there would be minimum displacement for the project as"only a few fishermen live there". Nayachar would be connected to Haldia with a bridge, the minister added.
According to him, the Congress was in favour of Nayachar but would formally declare its stand in the next couple of days. Once the Congress conveys its decision, New Kolkata International Development (NKID), a company promoted by the Indonesia-based Salim group, would conduct the feasibility study in the area.
The chemical hub project was a 50:50 joint venture between NKID and West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC). Also, the state government would send a proposal to the Centre for the petroleum, chemical, petrochemical investment region (PCPIR). To get the PCPIR status according to the Centre's guidelines, the existing petrochemical plants like HPL, Mitsubishi and South Asian Petrochem would be included in the region.
Sen said that the government had an agreement with Indian Oil Corporation, which would be an anchor investor in the project, but the public sector company had set forth one condition that a deep sea port had to be constructed.
The consultancy firm had mooted two other options for setting up the hub -- adjacent to either Haldia or Khejuri, and Contai, also in East Midnapore district. Sen said in both the cases, the government would have to acquire the land for which it would have to chalk out a rehabilitation and resettlement scheme."It will be time consuming," he added.
However, Sen did not mention the other two projects of multi-product special economic zone.
The twin project was expected to attract a total investment of Rs 44,000 crore (Rs 440 billion).