AHEAD OF the Assembly elections in West Bengal this year, the state government is trying to attract a ‘consortium of investors’ to develop Nayachar islands as an eco-tourism hub during the three-day Bengal Global Business Summit starting from January 7.
The previous Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government had proposed to build a chemical hub at the Nayachar Islands in East Midnapore, but they later abandoned the plan. Following this, a thermal power project was also proposed to be built here, but it, too, was shelved. After assuming power in 2011, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee proposed the creation of an eco-tourism park at Nayachar – but this didn’t receive clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest. On October 11 last year, the National Green Tribunal passed an order disallowing any construction on the 1,500-acre island between Haldia and Nandigram.
But Mamata continues to remain optimistic. After a recent visit to the island with a team of industrialists, the Chief Minister spoke of a “convergence of thoughts” regarding the potential of the belt. “I have sought proposals from them (the business delegation). In four days I hope to hear back. Fishery, too, has a lot of prospects here,” Mamata said. “Anything that happens here will be environment-friendly. I had opposed a chemical hub then and I will do it now as well,” she added.
Officials said Mamata had reached out to different stakeholders, including the Prasun Mukherjee-led New Kolkata International Development. Mukherjee had concluded an agreement with the erstwhile Left Front government to construct a chemical hub at Nayachar, after its original location at Nandigram met with protests from the then Opposition Trinamool Congress and local residents.
“The idea regarding a consortium of investors came about during the CM’s visit to the islands. Mukherjee owns vast portions of land and if it is not feasible for him to develop the area on his own, we are willing to work with a group of investors towards our common aim,” said a senior government official.