| Santoso: Grand design
Calcutta, Feb. 4: After promising Bengal its first international township, the Salim Group has set sights on roads.
Beni Santoso, the executive director of the Indonesia-based conglomerate, today responded positively to the government's request for its involvement in building and developing about 1,000 km of roads in and around the city.
The group also expressed interest in more townships, bigger than the one coming up on 390 acres in west Howrah.
Santoso met Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Writers' Buildings this evening and appraised him of work on the Calcutta West International City, for which the company ' along with the Ciputra group ' is pumping in $350 million.
Top state officials, including chief secretary Asok Gupta, and senior Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority representatives were present during the talks today.
'We had a very good discussion,' said Prasun Mukherjee, the Indonesia-based industrialist who is partnering the Salim Group and is the director of the international city project.
'As far as the roads are concerned, we are going to appoint consultants for a feasibility study. The Metro Group, a company owned by Salim, has built a 20-km elevated road in the Philippines and is in the process of building another 80 km,' Mukherjee said.
Road connectivity is a problem in Bengal and needs to be improved, he added.
The chief secretary listed some of the projects being considered by the Salim Group.
• A road linking Barasat to Kulpi and Haldia
• A corridor from Barrackpore to Baruipur
• A road linking Haldia to Siliguri
• A road linking Tulin in Purulia to Petrapol on the Bangladesh border in North 24-Parganas and
• A road from Parama Island to Baruipur
Gupta said the government had earlier sent a proposal to the Centre seeking national highway status for the last three proposed roads. 'The Salim Group will study our proposals and tell us about its interest in the near future,' he added.
Mukherjee said work on the township has started. 'At today's meeting, Beni told the chief minister work has started and thanked the government for its assistance.'
He added: 'We intend to have six model bungalows ready by September 1.' The township will have about 5,800 bungalows, which will comprise 92.5 per cent of the total construction in the township.
The new city at the intersection of Howrah-Amta Road and National Highway 6 will have, schools, hospitals, shopping malls and multiplexes.
Four agencies from Singapore and Jakarta are working on the engineering and architectural aspects of the township and its master plan.
Mukherjee also said: 'The Salim Group is seeking bigger plots ' of about 5,000-10,000 acres ' elsewhere in Bengal, and the chief minister was very excited about it. Buddhababu said the government would do its best to identify land for us.'