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Cabinet clears Nayachar hub

New Delhi, Feb. 23: The Union cabinet today approved the Nayachar chemical hub in Bengal, one of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s showpiece projects.

It was one of the three Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Regions (PCPIRs) to get the clearance. The others are at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and at Dahej in Gujarat.

“Proposals accepted from the state governments have been approved. This is subject to the existing funding rules,” home minister P. Chidambaram said after the meeting.

Infrastructure for the Bengal hub requires investments of Rs 25,000 crore, which will be from PCR Chemicals Pvt Ltd.

Firms are expected to invest another Rs 75,000 crore in setting up units in the hub, which will create around 10 lakh direct and indirect jobs.

Though it has come to be identified with Nayachar island, the bulk of the hub will be in mainland Haldia. Of the total area of 250 sq km, only a fifth will be at Nayachar.

The Bengal government had initially planned the hub at Nandigram but had to change its plans following violent protests.

Around Rs 12,872 crore has already been invested in Haldia. Officials said Indian Oil and Cals Refinery would be the anchor investors, pumping in Rs 15,000 crore and Rs 10,000 crore, respectively.

When the policy on the PCPIR was announced in May 2007, chemicals, fertilisers and steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan had said each such project would attract investments of $8 billion.

“The policy would give a thrust to industrialisation in these regions by way of setting up of downstream units, and in turn leading to the development of socio-economic infrastructure in the areas in and around the regions,” he said.

DoCoMo buy

The cabinet approved Japanese firm NTT DoCoMo’s Rs 12,924-crore investment in Tata Teleservices for a 27 per cent stake in the Indian unit. It also cleared an open offer for 20.25 per cent of Tata Teleservices (Maharsahtra) Limited.

The cabinet allowed the pension benefit of disability, invalidation or death while in service to those government employees who joined the service after January 1, 2004. This will bring them on a par with those who joined earlier.

Another plan to take off today is the joint venture between National Aviation Company of India (Nacil) and Singapore Air Terminal Services (Sats) for ground handling and cargo handling activities.

For the Bangalore and Hyderabad airports, the venture will invest Rs 250 crore. Profits and losses would be shared equally. The venture would be managed by a board consisting of representatives from Nacil and Sats in equal proportion.

Chidambaram said with the introduction of independent handling agencies at the airport, there would be induction of modern equipment and technology.

Export relief

Worried over job losses in the exporting units, the cabinet today announced additional interest subsidy of Rs 450 crore, taking the total allocation on this count to Rs 1,250 crore for the current fiscal.

In ports, new projects worth Rs 3,759.67 crore are on their way. The biggest investment is in a Rs 3,195-crore facility for setting up port and re-gasification facilities for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Kochi.

Aiming to check the rising prices of sugar, the cabinet announced the imposition of limits on sugar stocks traders can keep, a move that will empower the states against hoarding .

“In the current sugar season (October-September), there is a drop in the production after two years of bumper output and there are indications that the prices of sugar are rising. Therefore, the government has decided to impose stock holding limits and turnover limits for a period of four months from the date of issue notification,” Chidambaram said.

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