Nayachar (Haldia), Nov. 19: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today inaugurated a brackish water fishery project on this island off the port city, which has the potential to be the world’s largest facility of its kind.
“This project will give a huge boost to fish exports from Bengal. Most of what we produce is consumed by us,” the chief minister said. Though, on an average, Bengal produces 11 lakh tons of fish in a year, it has to depend on 12,000 tons from Andhra Pradesh to meet its own demands.
The Rs 17-crore project here is being funded by the National Cooperative Development Corporation and the state government undertaking, Benfish.
It would produce 1,200 tons of fish, tiger prawns and fresh water lobsters that are expected to fetch Rs 40 crore worth of foreign exchange annually.
Three hundred and sixteen large ponds, thirty-five hatcheries, two reservoirs, pumping and power stations and a nine-and-half kilometre approach road will constitute the project, Benfish sources said.
A 10 member team will handle fish production in each pond on a cooperative basis. In all, 3,160 people will be directly employed in the project. A thousand more will derive employment out of it.
Benfish will buy their total produce and market the fish after processing it.
The chief minister met senior officials of the Haldia Development Authority during his visit.
The chairman of the authority and local MP, Laxman Seth, said five major companies are going to invest in the port city by the middle of 2003.
South Asian Petrochemicals will pump in Rs 400 crore, followed by Hindustan Seals’ investment of Rs 135 crore and M.P. Glychem’s Rs 40 crore.
Bhattacharjee also went to an eco-tourism project being developed by the authority over 42 square kilometres.
The site, which will also house a coconut research centre, will have a bungalow with five double-bed rooms and several other amenities for tourists.
The authority will construct a jetty on Nayachar as well as on the Haldia side. Motorised boats will be used to ferry passengers from the mainland and back.
Bhattacharjee said the tourism facilities here should be of “particular interest” to foreign travellers and those looking for a getaway from the city and elsewhere.