CM scoffs at green fears - Nayachar no Hiroshima rerun, Buddha tells rally

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Calcutta
  • Published 6.09.07
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Calcutta, Sept. 6: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today dismissed as “misplaced” environmental apprehensions over the proposed chemical hub in Nayachar, an island near Haldia.

The chief minister said the island was the best alternative to Nandigram — the original site for the chemical hub — from where the government had to retreat because the Opposition “misled” the people.

“We have zeroed in on Nayachar, but some self-proclaimed environmentalists and media pundits are airing misplaced apprehensions,” he told a rally at Rani Rashmoni Avenue.

“Many people are opposing without any understanding of chemical and petrochemical industries... as if we are on a rerun of Hiroshima here.”

He also assured doubting Left Front allies that “experts at the Centre would examine all aspects of the project”.

“We won’t take a step ahead if there are real dangers. But I urge all, including friends in the Left who are genuinely confused over the project, to come forward for discussions. We want to ensure consensus,” the chief minister said.

The government has chosen Nayachar because it wants to avoid a repeat of the Nandigram land war and legal hassles over land acquisition.

But some experts have cautioned against setting up the Salim Group’s chemical hub there, citing geological instability and the need to protect the island’s eco-system.

Also Nayachar falls under Coastal Regulation Zone I, an area close to the sea where large projects are forbidden.

Industries minister Nirupam Sen also dismissed the apprehensions, claiming the island had become stable in the last 20 years and modern soil consolidation technology would make it more firm.

Bhattacharjee also took a swipe at the Opposition, daring them to “try and see” if they succeed in stopping the chemical hub from coming up.

The Trinamul Congress boycotted the meeting on Monday when the new site was proposed.

Nirupam meet

Nirupam Sen today met oceanographer Anandadeb Mukherjee, a member of the Digha Development Authority, and Pranabesh Sanyal, a member of the Central Coastal Zone Regulation Authority.

Mukherjee said a chemical hub could be set up in Nayachar if it is declassified as a Coastal Regulation Zone I. “We need to study if the island can tolerate a chemical industry and what its pollution bearing capacity is,” he said.