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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Punjab’s big plan for plant land: a pharma park, if Centre grants nod

The Finance Minister said that if a pharmaceutical park comes up in Bathinda, it will be a win-win situation for the area.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published: June 24, 2020 1:45:44 pm
Punjab’s big plan for plant land: a pharma park, if Centre grants nod The Finance Minister said that if a pharmaceutical park comes up in Bathinda, it will be a win-win situation for the area. Express photo by Gurmeet Singh.

The Punjab government has decided to set up an industrial park preferably for the pharmaceutical sector on a piece of land of the now defunct Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Power Plant in Bathinda. He also justified closure of the plant stating that it was a white elephant which had outlived its 25 years, and an unviable project.

“The government has decided to set up an industrial park over 1,320 acres (out of 1,764 acres of the power plant) in Bathinda,” Manpreet said.

He said it will have the potential to generate 50,000 jobs and turn Bathinda into an industrial hub. “The Government of India is setting up three pharmaceutical parks in the country and the Punjab government will try that one such park is set up in Bathinda,” he added.

The Finance Minister said that if a pharmaceutical park comes up in Bathinda, it will be a win-win situation for the area. “I was told if the state government gives land for this park, then the Government of India will invest Rs 700 crore for it,” he said, adding the Housing Department will be allowed to raise Rs 100 crore for providing infrastructure like a common effluent treatment plant and roads in the park.

He was talking to reporters a day after the Cabinet approved sale of land of thermal plant. Manpreet said that the coal-fired thermal plant was producing power at a very high cost compared to the market and was also causing pollution at Bathinda in the form of tons of fly ash, clouds of which were always engulfing the city.

He said the power being generated by the thermal plant was costing the state Rs 7.70 per unit while in the market they were able to purchase it between Rs 2.30 and 3.20 per unit.

He said the SAD and AAP may be upset at shutting down of the power plant but there was a “silent sentiment” at Bathinda that wanted the fly ash-generating unit to shut down.

He said the employees, including 1,057 regular ones, 135 outsourced and 665 contractual, were absorbed by the state and nobody was retrenched. On the other hand, the administration and establishment of power plant cost Rs 110 crore.

He added that the ministry of environment, Government of India, had issued notices to all such thermal plants asking them to install machines to check FGD, SPM and mercury content, failing which the government would have to pay a fine of Rs 250 crore every year. “This was becoming a huge price to be paid for the thermal plant.”

No super critical thermal plants

Two years after announcing that super critical thermal plants would be set up in Ropar and Mansa after shutting down Bathinda plant, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal said no new plants will be set up in the state as these were not viable.

He said during this season they were getting power at as low as Rs 2.30 per unit. He said that national grid was strengthened and power was cheaper when produced by plants at the pit heads.

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