Trinamool Congress, SUCI stay away from meet
Kolkata, Sept. 3 The West Bengal Government has identified three alternative sites for setting up of a proposed chemical hub in the State. The proposed sites at Haldia, Khejuri and Contai and the Nayachar island near Haldia, were discussed at an all-party meeting convened here today by the State Government to discuss issues and build consensus on the chemicals hub initiative.
The main Opposition party in the State, the Trinamool Congress, and the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), did not attend the meeting. The parties which attended included the CPI (M), the CPI, Forward Bloc, Congress (I), Revolutionary Socialist Party, Gorkha National Liberation Front, Forward Bloc (Marxist), West Bengal Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Briefing newspersons after the two-hour-long meeting, Mr Nirupam Sen, West Bengal’s Minister for Industries and Commerce, said many petrochemical companies such as Indian Oil Corporation, Haldia Petrochemicals and Mitsubishi Chemicals were already operating in Haldia, and for setting up a chemicals hub there under the ambit of the Petroleum, Chemical, Petrochemical Investment Region policy of the Centre, the State Government would need to acquire an additional 10,000 acres of land.
The problem with the second identified site, Khejuri and Contai, was that the lands were not contiguous. However, they could be connected by rail and road.
The third site was the island of Nayachar near Haldia, where the entire land area of about 11,000 acres was available with the State Government. Mr Sen said those attending the all-party meeting had opined that a consensus should be arrived over the site where the chemicals hub would be set up. Care should be taken to avoid acquisition of land and displacement of people.
The environmental impact of the project should also be delved into in detail. An advisory Board would be set up to advise the State Government on the project, he added.
Mr Sen said the chemicals hub would be set up as a joint venture project of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation Ltd and New Kolkata International Development. Indian Oil Corporation would be the anchor investor there.
After receipt of feedback from all parties and following a firm decision on the site for the proposed chemicals hub, the State Government would approach the Centre in the matter. “It is my feeling that the uncertainty over the chemicals hub project is over after today’s meeting,” he said.
Speaking to newspersons, Mr Manas Bhuniya, who represented the Congress (I) at the meeting, said his party was all for a chemicals hub in the State. However, the State Government should also ensure that land required for the project is not acquired forcibly and people are not displaced against their wishes. He said the full environmental impact of the project must be made clear before the State Government decides to go ahead with it.
Mr Bhuniya said the State Government must take into confidence and engage the main Opposition party in the State, the Trinamool Congress, on the chemicals hub issue. “Industry can be built on co-operation, not confrontation,” he said.