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Delhi puts hub plan on notice

New Delhi, May 25: The Centre has set the clock ticking for the Bengal government to finalise an alternative site for the chemical hub.

The state government has been told to file a status report on how far it has progressed in relocating the project originally planned in Nandigram.

At a meeting with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed concern over the delay in identifying the new site, sources said.

Bengal, Gujarat, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are apparently in the running for the chemical hub. According to sources, Orissa has already shown keen interest in making available a site for the project, facing rough weather in Bengal because of trouble over land acquisition.

Singh asked Bhattacharjee the outcome of the meeting called by the Left Front to restore normality in Nandigram.

The chemical hub is proposed to come up on 25,000 acres, as part of a 62,500-acre Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemical Investment Region.

In a note circulated among all parties, the chief minister recently outlined the contours of the project and tried to evolve a “consensus” in the wake of the land acquisition row.

The letter stressed the need to speed up the site selection and made it clear that Haldia alone could be the ideal location with its concentration of chemical and petrochemical units and proximity to a proposed deep-sea port.

Bhattacharjee submitted two letters to the Prime Minister — urging the Centre to speed up the construction of the deep-sea port and seeking a hike in funds earmarked for the rural electrification.

Singh apparently assured Bhattacharjee both will be considered sympathetically.

The Rs 2,000-crore rural power project was supposed to be 90 per cent funded by the Centre and completed by 2007.

Lack of funds has slowed it down in Bengal and Bhattacharjee wants to get cracking before the 2008 panchayat polls.

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