Chemical hub on West Bengal island will damage environment

March 18th, 2008 - 5:51 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, March 18 (IANS) A citizen’s expert committee has slammed the West Bengal government’s dream chemical hub project on the Nayachar island on Hooghly river, saying it would cause serious ecological damage. Nayachar, a 47 sq km island on the Hooghly river in East Midnapore district, has been selected as the likely place for the proposed chemical hub in West Bengal. The state government settled for Nayachar after being forced to move from Nandigram, the first site chosen for the chemical hub.

The committee, formed by city-based environmental activists, said that Nayachar is an estuarine shoal and any structural intervention on the land would imperil its delicate ecology.

“First of all, the newly selected location for the chemical hub at Nayachar cannot be termed an island. It’s better to call it a land of alluvial deposit which emerged above water level during 1930 and still continues to evolve by the process of erosion and accretion,” Ganges Monitoring Committee member Kalyan Rudra told IANS.

He said since this vast area has been a major source of nutrients to various aquatic life forms, setting up of any type of petrochemical industry could cause serious contamination in the river water by its toxic discharge.

The citizen’s expert committee has been formed by a city-based voluntary organisation Society for Direct Initiative for Social and Health Action (DISHA) and Teachers and Scientists against Maldevelopments (TASAM), which are jointly working on developing coastal ecology across West Bengal.

The committee comprises eminent river scientists, professors of marine science, agricultural research and chemical technology, the former deputy director general of Geological Survey of India (GSI) and others.

Questioning the economic viability of the chemical hub project, National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) member Harekrishna Debnath said that over 250,000 people earn their livelihood at Nayachar, about 160 km from here, by fishing.

“West Bengal contributes 200,000 tonnes of fish every year which generates an export revenue of about Rs.10 billon (Rs.1,000 crore) annually,” Debnath said, adding that the fishing community would stand to lose their livelihoods if the project came up.

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