West Bengal shifts project to protect ECL coal reserves

April 8th, 2009 - 11:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, April 8 (IANS) The uncertainty over the proposed Durgapur Aerotropolis project was removed Wednesday with the West Bengal government agreeing to shift it eastward besides relocating three yet-to-come-up industrial units to protect a considerable portion of the coal reserves of Eastern Coalfields Limited.
The project, being developed by a special purpose company, Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited (BAPL), in joint venture with West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), comprises an airport, an industrial zone, including an IT park, and a township in the Durgapur-Asansol region of Bardhaman district.

“The government has agreed to reduce the impact of ECL’s leasehold area from 2.63 sq km to 0.71 sq km which will protect a considerable portion of the coal reserve,” Partha Sarathi Bhattacharyya, chairman of the country’s biggest coal miner Coal India Limited (CIL), told reporters after meeting state industries secretary Sabyasachi Sen.

Besides, the Aerotropolis project, slated to come up over 3,500 acres in two phases, will be reduced by 400 acres.

State-owned CIL had raised an objection to the project, saying its existing underground coal reserve and future exploration in the Durgapur-Asansol industrial belt will be adversely hit.

Bhattacharyya said the government has also agreed to relocate three projects to be set up by Bhushan Steel, Abhijit Grup and Videocon in the area to enable ECL to more than make up for the losses it would suffer in the 0.71 km area.

“We will lose 14 million tonnes of extractable coal. But we will make up for it in multiples once the units are relocated,” he said.

Earlier, Coal India had said it will lose 2.63 sq km of its lease-hold area because of the project. Now, with the shifting of Aerotropolis and relocation of the three industrial units, it can save 1.92 sq kms.

“The solution thrashed out may not be 100 percent, but it is reasonable,” he said.

Sen said none of the three units have started any construction work.

Sen said CIL has also requested that it be taken into confidence before announcement of any industrial project. “We feel this is a fair request.”

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