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Buddha grand design for poor cousin

Howrah, June 28: If actions match words, Howrah would one day catch up with cousin Calcutta.

'We are not neglecting Howrah. But all-round development of a city is not possible overnight. We are not sitting idle,' chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said while listing a series of steps to develop Howrah town.

Bhattacharjee ' who inaugurated the first phase of a housing complex, Lakeview, of the West Bengal Housing Board at Doomrajala, around 5 km from Calcutta ' said Howrah would be the first town in Bengal to have a bicycle unit.

'The first bicycle unit in the state will be set up in Howrah by the same company that is constructing the West Howrah Township,' he said.

The Indonesia-based Salim Group and Ciputra Group have undertaken the project of setting up an integrated satellite township in west Howrah ' at the intersection of Howrah-Amta Road and National Highway 6. The township will house about 7,000 bungalows, schools, hospitals, shopping centres and multiplexes.

Bhattacharjee said the government had also lined up other projects. 'An industrial township will also be set up in Uluberia. The land for that township has already been acquired,' he added.

A garment park, a food park, a rubber products park and a foundry park will also be set up in the district. 'Our aim is to bring Howrah on a par with Calcutta so far as development is concerned,' the chief minister said.

He, however, also sounded a note of caution. 'Howrah's population density is much more than that of Calcutta. This is a challenge for us.'

Housing minister Gautam Deb, who was also present, said the government's priority is to 'take care of people belonging to the low and middle-income groups'. The plan, he added, is to allot 50 per cent of any housing complex made by the state for these groups.

'A new housing complex exclusively for the low and middle-income groups will come up in New Town. We will invite tenders for that project very soon,' he said.

Today, the keys of 144 flats of the Lakeview Housing Complex were handed to the owners. The complex, on a 6.72-acre plot, is 2 km from Kona Expressway, 3 km from Vidyasagar Setu and 4 km from Howrah Bridge. In all, it will have 528 flats for low, middle and high-income groups.

The housing board is offering 393 sq ft and 592 sq ft flats in LIG and MIG segments at Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 5.21 lakh.

'These highly competitive prices are part of our efforts to help the financially weaker sections,' Deb said. 'Such low prices will force private promoters to slash the prices of flats made by them.'

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