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Fish and land on Salim plate
- Project to plug Bengal’s diet deficit, give direct and indirect jobs to 30,000

Calcutta, Nov. 2: The Salim Group is casting its net wider in Bengal: the Indonesian company is planning a fishery foray for which it may need as many as 25,000 acres.

The latest plan follows proposals for a host of infrastructure projects in the state, which together could entail an investment of over Rs 20,000 crore.

On Salim’s radar now are a fish farm and a fish processing-cum-export unit in Howrah. Estimated to cost $2 million (Rs 9 crore), the project is expected to give direct and indirect employment to as many as 30,000 people.

Benny Santoso, the executive director of the group, met state fisheries minister Kiranmoy Nanda today to discuss the project. According to officials, the Indonesian investor has sought 25,000 acres at Amta in Howrah for the project.

The group proposes to produce 1 lakh tonnes of fish a year. “Bengal produces 12 lakh tonnes of fish annually, but we still need to buy 70,000-80,000 tonnes from other states because of the immense demand. If this unit comes up, we will be self-sufficient in fish. They also plan to export processed fish from here,” said Nanda.

The state now has a fish-processing unit at Chakgheria, off the EM Bypass, from where marine products are exported.

The fisheries minister said his department would buy the land directly from farmers.

“We have identified low-lying land along the Damodar river for the project. Since the area is low lying, it gets flooded every year. It is not agriculturally significant, hence the farmers will not be averse to selling it,” Nanda said.

The project would be executed either as a joint venture between the investor and the government or through a fisheries co-operative, he said.

A team of experts from Indonesia will soon visit the site to assess the project feasibility.

If implemented, the project will be the largest of its kind in the state. Around 40,000 hectares of waterbodies are now exploited for fishing in Bengal.

Santoso will meet chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee tomorrow and finalise the 100-km Barasat-Raichak Expressway as well as the Raichak-Kukrahati bridge projects.

A broad agreement was signed a few months ago, but project-specific memoranda of understanding are being drawn up.

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