The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Salim links new site to feasibility

Calcutta, Aug. 9: The Salim Group has “conditionally” agreed to shift its proposed chemical hub outside Nandigram.

The new site will soon be shortlisted by government-appointed consultants.

However, the company will give its nod after conducting a study on the feasibility of the site.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told Benny Santoso, the executive director of the Indonesian conglomerate, at Writers’ Buildings today that he would be informed about the government’s choice by the end of the month.

This is Santoso’s first visit to the state since the Nandigram land war broke out in January this year.

“So far, we had been making all our plans based on Nandigram. But now the chief minister has clearly told us that the project is not happening in Nandigram. Since the government has decided to shift it, we will conduct a feasibility study of the alternative site before we proceed,” said NRI businessman Prasun Mukherjee, a collaborator in the project.

Mukherjee made it clear that the group would weigh all options carefully before agreeing to the new site.

Industries minister Nirupam Sen said the government had appointed Mott McDonald for short-listing two or three sites. The British firm has earlier assisted the Bhattacharjee government in several projects.

“These names will be discussed with political parties and communicated to the Salim Group this month itself. They will then give us their views,” Sen said.

According to officials at Writers’, the government doesn’t have much choice apart from Haldia and Nayachar island in East Midnapore, also known as Meendeep, as the are close to the port. The 40sqkm largely uninhabited island on the Hooghly is about 3km from Haldia.

“Haldia is not really an option because of space constraint. The 10,000-odd acres required for the chemical hub cannot be found there. Nayachar could be looked at, but it is ecologically sensitive,” said an official.

Asked about Nayachar, industries secretary Sabyasachi Sen said: “Let’s see.”

Reminded that the suggestion had come from Congress leader Manas Bhuiyan in the Assembly, he said: “Yes, that’s a very significant suggestion. Let’s see what the Salim Group says.”

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