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Bank funds for Digha

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By DEBASHIS CHATTOPADHYAY
  • Published 6.09.11
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Calcutta, Sept. 5: The government has decided to use a “major portion” of World Bank funds for the preservation of Bengal’s coastline to develop and beautify the East Midnapore beach resorts of Digha and Shankarpur.

Environment minister Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar said today that the World Bank would give Rs 300 crore to the state under the India Integrated Coastal Zone Management project. “We will spend a major portion of the funds on the development and beatification of Digha and Shankarpur,” he said.

The minister will visit Digha tomorrow to hold a meeting with officials of the Digha-Shankarpur Development Authority (DSDA) and some government departments that will be associated with the project.

Then Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh had announced during a visit to the Sunderbans in January 2010 that the World Bank would provide funds for the preservation of Bengal’s coasts.

Mamata Banerjee has time and again expressed her wish to “turn Digha into Goa”. “We want to make a visit to the Sunderbans similar to the African Safari. We also want to turn Digha into Goa and Darjeeling into Switzerland,” the chief minister had told reporters in Delhi on June 22.

Ghosh Dastidar did not specify the exact amount that would be spent on the development project. “I will hold meetings with the officials of the departments that will be involved in the project before finalising the cost,” he said.

Environment department officials said that under the plan, the DSDA would undertake a beach cleaning and sanitation drive, generate employment for local youths, develop the drainage system, make the area a plastic-free zone and plant trees.

“At least 10 departments and agencies, including public health engineering, the Fisheries Corporation Limited, forest and disaster management, will be involved,” he added.

Ghosh Dastidar said the Zoological Survey of India would be asked to overhaul the marine aquarium–cum-research centre in Digha. “We plan to modernise the aquarium and set up a marine museum and interpretation centre. We also plan to build a centre where the people of the coastal areas will be trained to create awareness among fishermen about their trade, and tourists about ways to keep Digha clean and environment-friendly,” Ghosh Dastidar said.