The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Haldia is out for SEZ hopefuls

Calcutta, June 13: The state government will encourage only chemical industries in Haldia as it would be difficult to find land for others there.

Its hands full in trying to tackle the Nandigram backlash, the government doesn’t want other industries vying for land in East Midnapore district, which has been rocked by violence since the beginning of this year.

The state-level screening committee on special economic zones, which today met 18 new SEZ applicants to scrutinise their proposals, categorically told them that they should not plan any industry in Haldia but look at other districts.

Top companies eyeing Haldia include the Emami Group, which proposes to set up an integrated textile park, The Chatterjee Group, which has planned a refinery, and Nepaz Metaliks, which wants to set up a steel SEZ across 250 acres.

“We were told that the government itself is scouting for land in Haldia for setting up a mega chemical hub. So we should not be looking at Haldia. Unless we can find an alternative, our proposals will not be considered,” a member of the investors’ lobby said after the meeting at the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation office.

Apart from company representatives, A.K. Bit, the development commissioner of the Falta SEZ, Bengal industry adviser Bhaskar Kulbe and officials of the state commerce and industry department attended the meeting.

Other applicants under the scanner included Abex Infocom, which has proposed an engineering SEZ in South 24-Parganas, and Silvan, which, too, is planning an engineering SEZ, but in North 24-Parganas.

Representatives of Gremac Infrastructure, which wants to set up a steel SEZ in addition to a Knowledge Process Outsourcing unit, could not make it to today’s meeting.

Candidates seeking land in North and South 24-Parganas were told to take their projects to other districts like Burdwan, Bankura and Purulia. This is because the government is running out of land in the vicinity of Calcutta and wants to promote the backward areas.

Contenders from the IT sector include SREI, which wants to build a knowledge park in Rajarhat, Ascendus, planning an IT park in Rajarhat, and PS Nirman, which is looking to set up an IT park in association with Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd.

Ascendus has already procured land in Rajarhat from Hidco, but it needs the state government’s help to get more land nearby.

The investors will now have to consult local district magistrates and see if land is available in the respective districts. If it is not, they will have to modify their proposals.

“We’ve made it clear that unless land is available and they can identify it for their projects, the government will not forward the proposals to the Centre,” said a senior official.

Five more proposals for SEZs in Bengal are pending before the Centre’s board of approvals.

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