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Kulpi hope for Bengal Shipyard

Calcutta, Feb. 16: Bengal Shipyard may set up its Rs 2,000-crore unit at Kulpi, next to the proposed port of DP World and Keventer Group.

The shipyard was earlier slated to come up at Geonkhali, east Midnapore, but the project did not make any headway in the aftermath of the Nandigram violence.

The company may officially announce the new location in July and start work by the end of 2011.

The timing is crucial as a new government would be sworn in by then after the Assembly elections, raising hopes of a stable political climate.

Bengal Shipyard is a 50:50 joint venture between city-based Apeejay Surrendra Group and Bharati Shipyard of Mumbai. It required about 500 acres for the project.

In 2008, the company had chosen Geonkhali for the shipbuilding unit, and the state government had started the process of land acquisition. It was abandoned midway after protests by the local people following the Singur and Nandigram agitations.

The company, however, did not scrap the project and decided to look for an alternative location.

“We are trying our best. I spent my childhood here. I studied in Calcutta and then IIT Kharagpur. I am keen on the project,” V. Kumar, managing director of Bharati Shipyard, said.

Kumar was in Calcutta to hand over two cargo ships to foreign buyers, which will ply in the Baltic sea. The ships were built at a small yard of Bharati near Shalimar in Howrah. Bharati, along with Apeejay, wants to build bigger vessels for bulk cargo and ferrying oil .

Kumar did not mention any location nor any fixed timeline. “I think nothing will happen for sometime till the political climate settles down,” he said.

Partho Barman Roy, director of Bharati Shipyard, was more forthcoming in setting a tentative time to break ground by the end of the year and start commercial production by early 2014.

Neither disclosed any specific location. But sources said the new site would be on the left bank of Hooghly.

Kulpi will have a 10-meter draught which is good for building large vessels. The region has been denotified from the command area of the Calcutta Port Trust for the Kulpi port project, which is stuck for 16 years in red tape.

Port partners DP World and Keventer are still pursuing the project.

Orissa project

While Bengal Shipyard’s Bengal plan remains in a limbo because of the uncertain political climate, its Orissa project near Dhamra is also yet to take off. The Orissa government has already allotted 1,100 acres but has now requested the company to shift the project about a kilometre from the original location.

Bengal Shipyard may now look to Andhra Pradesh for this project if the impasse in Orissa continues.

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