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regular-article-logo Friday, 01 March 2024

Long wait for land for central government company

Approved in July 2022, GAIL eastern India headquarters in Durgapur still a distant dream

Abhijeet Chatterjee Durgapur Published 10.04.23, 04:55 AM
The land allotted to GAIL by the Bengal government in Durgapur

The land allotted to GAIL by the Bengal government in Durgapur Picture by Dipika Sarkar

GAIL India Limited, a central government Navratna company that deals with transport and marketing of natural gas, is caught in a seemingly endless wait for land on which it wants to build its eastern India headquarters in West Burdwan's Durgapur.

The company had applied to the Bengal government two years ago for land to set up its regional headquarters for eastern India in Durgapur.

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The state government allotted 47.36 cottahs of land at City Centre phase III close to NH2 through cabinet approval in July last year and asked the Asansol-Durgapur Development Authority (ADDA) to execute the decision.

At an administrative review meeting held a month before last year's cabinet approval, chief minister Mamata Banerjee described GAIL's decision to set up its regional headquarters in Durgapur as a big achievement.

Despite Mamata's endorsement, GAIL is yet to get possession of the land although it paid Rs 25 crore to the ADDA in September last year.

ADDA officials said that the delay in handing over the land parcel to GAIL was due to an inter-departmental dispute with the forest department.

ADDA chairman and Trinamul Congress MLA Tapas Banerjee said that land allotted to GAIL belongs to the forest department and they were in the process to get the plot from them.

"Once we receive it, the land will be handed over to GAIL. The delay is because of technical reasons. We have escalated the matter for an early resolution," he said.

A senior GAIL official said they chose Durgapur its eastern regional headquarters because of urban infrastructure, logistics and good road connectivity with Haldia and Jharkhand capital Ranchi.

"Initially, we thought to set up our eastern regional headquarters in or near Calcutta, but shifted our focus to Durgapur as the distance from here to Haldia and Ranchi was almost the same. From Calcutta, the distance to Ranchi is more. Moreover, infrastructure and logistics facilities in Durgapur are also good. But we are upset that even after almost two years we are yet to get land," said the official.

Sources said GAIL plans to set up a six-storey building on the land.

"We are waiting for the land and have paid Rs 25 crore to them as per their demand. We are hopeful that the situation will improve soon," said Kanchan Roy, deputy general manager of GAIL in Durgapur.

At present, GAIL works out of a makeshift regional office at Panagarh Industrial Park.

West Burdwan district boasts headquarters of central public sector units like Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) at Sanctoria in Asansol. The ECL operates in Bengal and Jharkhand. There are three SAIL-run plants in West Burdwan district's Durgapur and Burnpur. The divisional headquarters of Eastern Railway is in Asansol of the district.

"If the GAIL sets up its regional headquarters in Durgapur it will add another feather to the prosperity of this region," said a functionary at Durgapur Chamber of Commerce.

Opposition parties have blamed the state government and ADDA's negligence for the delay.

"The government and its ADDA are more focused on cut-money.... It is a shame that a company like GAIL could not get land even after waiting for two years," said Pankaj Roy Sarkar, a CPM district secretariat member in Durgapur.

BJP's Durgapur (West) MLA Lakshman Ghorui said the state government was deliberately delaying handing over the land to the central government utility.

"(Narendra) Modiji is developing the country and Mamata Banerjee is creating hurdles in the path," he said.

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