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Bridge joins Salim busy list

Calcutta, June 16: Indonesia’s Salim Group today expressed interest in building a Rs 2,000-crore bridge connecting Raichak and Kukrahati while affirming its plan to develop a special economic zone (SEZ) and chemical hub at Haldia.

Officials said the 2-km bridge on the Hooghly will cut travel time from Calcutta to Haldia and Digha by around 90 minutes. The government had earlier approached the Japanese government for the bridge.

The Salim Group will need around 36,000 acres for its list of projects topped by the 25,000-acre SEZ.

After inspecting three sites at Haldia yesterday, Benny Santoso, executive director of the Salim Group, today told chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee that his company wanted to be the anchor developer for the Haldia SEZ and chemical hub.

Santoso said the expressway and the bridge would each cost around Rs 2,000 crore.

“They have offered to develop the complete infrastructure at Haldia across 25,000 acres, including the SEZ, which will comprise a chemical hub, a multi-industry estate and a residential township. Though we’re talking to Indian Oil Corporation, the Salim Group will market the hub,” said industry secretary Sabyasachi Sen.

“In return, they want development rights as well as land for a 7,000-acre township in South 24-Parganas and 3,000 acres to build the expressway.”

The township along the expressway will have IT and biotech parks.

Industry minister Nirupam Sen said the land area would be worked out after the group submitted the project reports. “However, we will decide where we will allot this land. We will only give away single-crop land,” the minister said.

Santoso said his company would invite other international investors to the chemical hub.

Asked if talks with Reliance on an SEZ at Haldia would continue, the minister said: “We will only know when Mukesh (Ambani) meets us on June 21. If other infrastructure investors come, we’ll welcome them too.”

Officials felt the Salim entry into Haldia would not be a deterrent to other investors like Indian Oil, which is to be the anchor investor in the chemical hub.

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