Rs 93,000 cr Haldia petrochem hub set to be axed

FP

West Bengal's ambitious plan to turn its port town of Haldia into a Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR) is all set to be formally buried at Thursday's cabinet meeting with the Centre moving to pull out of the Rs 93,000-crore project.

Although the Centre's move comes less than two weeks after the Trinamool Congress withdrew support to the UPA government, the decision has its origins in a terse four-line letter from the Mamata Banerjee government dated February 8 that said the state was not interested in pursuing the project, initiated by the previous Left Front government.

"The Government of West Bengal has decided to develop an industrial park, power plant and an eco-tourism park on the Nayachar Island in Haldia, Purba Medinipur district. The state government will, therefore, not develop the project under the Petroleum, Chemicals and Petroleum Investment Region policy of the Government of India," the letter said.

The PCPIR project would have been the fourth in the country after the three under way in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. It was proposed by the Communist government of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and most approvals had been secured in the final months of UPA-I. The formal agreement between the Centre and the state was, however, signed in October 2009.

Under this pact, the state government pledged to invest Rs 48,180 crore while the Centre agreed to put in Rs 2,108 crore. The project entailed a massive physical infrastructure investment of over Rs 18,000 crore to build roads, railways, air links and port connectivity.

The PCPIR was to also have generated about 10 lakh jobs, 4 lakh of which would have been directly linked to the project. The project was to be spread across 250 sq km with about 49 sq km on the Nayachar Island.

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