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Tourist hot spot off Haldia

Haldia, Sept. 2: Grand plans are in the offing to develop Nayachar island off this port city into a top-notch tourist destination.

“The Haldia Development Authority has taken up a Rs 56-crore project to spruce up the island that has immense potential to attract tourists,” said development authority chairman and Lok Sabha MP from the region Lakshman Seth.

The authority has already sent an application to the state government to release 2,000 acres on the island, 1.5 km from the confluence of the Haldi and the Hooghly rivers.

“We have everything in place to begin work on 1,000 acres as soon as we have the clearance,” Seth said.

Thousand acres will be developed into an eco-tourism complex and aqua-park, said the authority’s chief executive officer, A. Subbaiah.

A coconut research centre is also being developed. “This will be useful for field trips for students of tourism, botany and marine biology,” Subbaiah added.

The 11,000-hectare island, formed by silt deposits, is 3.5 km long and 2.5 kilometres in width. The plan is to have a resort for tourists along with a centre for day-trippers.

“There will be an 80-room five-star hotel on the island,” Seth said. A lake will be dug up for the water sports park.

Subbaiah said the authority is already engaged in discussions with “potential investors”.

According to data available with the authority, there were 127,000 tourists in Haldia last year. “This figure will grow up to 284,000 by the year 2003 as per our projections. If we can make these people stay a while longer, the local economy will be get a tremendous boost,” said Seth.

The development plans are focused on preserving the local environment and the project will have constructions on only half of the total area that will be acquired. “The same promoter can also develop the island as a fishing harbour… a couple of jetties can be built at Nayachar,” Seth pointed out.

The authority has already taken up an electrification scheme for the island. A 3-mw power plant is being set up by the State Electricity Board.

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