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Buddha steam for Salim projects

Calcutta, Jan. 2: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government is back to business. If Singur topped its agenda on the first day of 2008, the chemical hub at Nayachar featured on the second.

A steering committee headed by the Bengal chief minister was formed today to oversee work on the hub and a slew of other projects to be implemented by the Indonesia-based Salim Group over the next 15 years.

After a meeting with industries minister ministers Nirupam Sen, IT minister Debesh Das, Sunderbans minister Kanti Ganguly and fisheries minister Kiranmoy Nanda, Bhattacharjee said: “We met to prioritise our plans for more and more industry in the state. It was a review meeting on important projects. That (industry) is the need of the hour.”

New Kolkata International Development, a consortium led by the Salims, would build:

The chemical hub

Barasat-Raichak expressway

Raichak-Kukrahati bridge

Townships in Baruipur, Kalyani and Haringhata

IT hubs at Kalyani, Durgapur and Haldia

The Centre, Bhattacharjee said, wanted “us to form a steering committee to supervise work related to the Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR), which includes the chemical hub”.

The committee formed today would additionally look into “big projects like construction of townships, bridges and expressways”. Several ministers and departmental secretaries would form part of the committee.

Bhattacharjee said the state was awaiting the environment impact assessment report of the committee led by former ONGC chairman Subir Raha. “The petrochemicals region is very important to us. I’ve told (Union chemicals minister) Ramvilas Paswan to bear with our delays. We expect to get the report soon.”

The Centre had sought clarifications on the project’s environment impact, especially because of Nayachar’s proximity to the sea.

“The Centre would have to give the final nod to the project. We are hopeful about Nayachar,” the chief minister said.

The Salim consortium has appointed Singapore firm Jurong to conduct soil tests.

For the Raichak-Kukrahati bridge, the company has appointed a US consultant, which would begin a survey soon. “We want construction of this bridge as early as possible as it is important for the chemical hub,” Bhattacharjee said.

He also underscored the importance of the expressway that would reduce travel time between Calcutta and Haldia by half. “Work on 25km of the 98km road would be done in the first phase. Diamond Harbour Road would be expanded and become a national highway with the construction of the expressway.”

District magistrates have been asked to identify land for the townships.

The new towns and tech hubs would take care of the rush for IT plots in Calcutta and the need for housing in emerging, Bhattacharjee said.

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