Planning for future

Print edition : August 13, 2010

Bansa Gopal Chowdhury: "We are giving a lot of concessions to small-scale units."-SUSHANTA PATRONOBISH

Interview with Bansa Gopal Chowdhury, Chairman, ADDA.

BANSA GOPAL CHOWDHURY has been Chairman of the Asansol Durgapur Development Authority (ADDA) since August 1994. He has been a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) since 1979. As a Minister between 1991 and 2005 he worked in the Departments of Technical Education, ESI, Commerce and Industries, and Cottage and Small Scale Industries during different periods.

In 2005, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Asansol and retained the seat in the 2009 elections. In an interview with Frontline, Chowdhury spoke about the ADDA's thrust areas.

What are the scope and functions of the ADDA?

The Asansol Durgapur Development Authority was established [in 1980] under the West Bengal Town and Country Planning and Development Act, 1979. The area under the Authority is about 1,615 square kilometres, catering to a population of about 30 lakh, both urban and rural. For comprehensive and sustainable development we have prepared a city development plan and a mobility plan along with a perspective plan for 2025 with the help of IIT Kharagpur.

The Land Use Development Control Plan (LUDCP) for Durgapur is under revision, and IIT Kharagpur was asked to prepare one for Asansol. We have established an export promotion industrial park [EPIP]. The EOUs [export oriented units] are interested in it and one inland container depot (ICD) has also been set up there. The ADDA has been able to get an investment of more than Rs.50,000 crore in the past two decades. Small and medium enterprises have evinced interest in setting up units in this area. We are giving a lot of concessions to the small-scale industry (SSI) units.

The ADDA has also collaborated with various private sector companies through the PPP model for developmental initiatives. Among the projects are the commercial hub and high-income group (HIG) residential apartments in the City Centre area in Durgapur; Shristinagar The New Asansol, with Bengal Shristi Infrastructure Development Ltd; Urvasi, a residential neighbourhood in Durgapur in collaboration with Bengal Ambuja Housing Development Ltd; a shopping complex on G.T. Road in Asansol by P.C.M. Cement Concrete Pvt. Ltd; the development of 54 cottahs [1 cottah is 66.9 square metres] of land in the core of the City Centre area in Durgapur in collaboration with the Bengal Green Field Housing Development Company Ltd.

Other projects in the pipeline are: multi-storeyed housing complexes at Bidhan Nagar, Durgapur; Raniganj Square, the highway facility hub at Raniganj; the operation and maintenance of the Toy Train & Boating Complex at Durgapur; the development of a residential sector on 30 acres adjacent to KSTP in Asansol; a commercial and recreational hub at Gandhi More on NH 2 in Durgapur; and a commercial and recreational hub at Chitra More near the Polo grounds in Asansol.

To promote IT-based industries, Shapoorji Pallonji Pvt. Ltd has been entrusted with the development of an IT park in Durgapur. To promote village artisans in the area, an urban haat is being set up with the aid of the Government of India.

The Asansol Urban Area, comprising five urban local bodies Asansol Municipal Corporation, Durgapur Municipal Corporation, Raniganj Municipality, Kulti Municipality and Jamuria Municipality has been declared a mission city under the JNNURM. The ADDA is the local-level nodal agency of this area.

JNNURM projects

The projects under the JNNURM are subcategorised as Basic Services for Urban Poor and Urban Infrastructure and Governance. The basic services sub-mission-I focusses on housing. At present 13 projects are under way to provide more than 25,500 dwelling units for the rehabilitation of slums. The urban infrastructure sub-mission focusses on water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, roads, and so on. Under the ADDA, six water supply projects, one solid waste management project and one road project have been approved by the Central government.

Moreover, the Centre has sanctioned Rs.4,357.27 lakh for the solid waste management programme in Asansol Urban Area under the JNNURM. In this project, door-to-door collection and transportation of waste are carried out. For the composting and landfill facility, the ADDA selected Gujrat Enviro Protection and Infrastructure Ltd through a bidding process. Work for setting up a composting plant has begun at Shankarpur in Durgapur and composting and land-filling are on at Mangalpur .

How did you deal with the slowdown of investments during the global recession?

This has hit us but not to a great extent. We have initiated some PPP projects in the housing sector. Look at the investment figures of the ADDA from 2007-2008 to 2008-2009 and you will notice that we have tried to bring in more investment in the social infrastructure sector and in the commercial and retail sectors. We have also tried to bring in investments in the educational and IT sectors.

The impact of the recession has been felt, but large companies such as Indo-American, Bengal EMTA, Graphite India, McNally Bharat and Phillips Carbon have tried to expand their projects here, and we are supporting them. The Mining and Allied Machineries Corporation is also on revival mode with the help of Bharat Earth Movers Limited, Coal India Limited and Damodar Valley Corporation. We are involved in the modernisation and expansion of the Steel Authority of India's IISCO Steel Plant at Burnpur.

The State government has formed a committee to look into the activities of IISCO, and the chairman of the ADDA is also the chairman of this committee. The modernisation of IISCO is already creating job opportunities by way of involving SSIs in the project.

How are you dealing with the perennial drinking water crisis here?

Availability of drinking water, particularly in the coal belt, is a serious problem. Prior to the implementation of the JNNURM, the Public Health Engineering Department of the State government and the ADDA jointly set up a number of water supply projects in the region.

With the introduction of the JNNURM, the following water supply projects have been sanctioned: (i) a 42 [million litres a day] MLD water supply project at Raniganj Municipality; (ii) a 22.73 MLD water supply project at Jamuria;(iii) two phases of water supply augmentation for the Durgapur Municipal Corporation; (iv) a 10 million gallons a day (MGD) water supply project in Asansol; and (v) a water project at Kulti.

Of the above mentioned projects, those at Jamuria and Durgapur phase-II have been commissioned. Two new water supply projects, one at Durgapur and the other at Kulti, where the crisis is particularly severe, were sanctioned recently by the Central government.

What is the ADDA's role in the rehabilitation of those affected by subsidence in the coal belt?

The State government has entrusted the ADDA with the implementation of the rehabilitation project along with the Ministry of Coal. The Government of India sanctioned the project. The State government has set up a committee headed by the Chief Secretary to monitor the project. The CEO of the ADDA is overseeing the day-to-day activities. We have created a special rehabilitation cell and identified over 3,000 acres for rehabilitation.

What is being done about pollution?

We are in touch with the West Bengal Pollution Control Board . Our CEO [Sanjay Bansal] has come up with a novel idea. Every company will have to maintain as a green patch at least 15 per cent of the total land given to it; and in housing, we are making changes in the lease deed to make it mandatory to maintain a portion of green cover.

We are strict about giving the go-ahead to any industry; they will have to meet all the specifications relating to pollution control for it.

What are your thrust areas?

Our main thrust area is to acquire land for future projects. We are planning for the next 40 years. We recently acquired 100 acres for the promotion of SSIs in Asansol. In Durgapur, we will acquire over 1,000 acres for large industrial projects.

Another thrust area is the housing sector, particularly catering to the needs of the middle class and the lower middle class. We have identified land in different parts of Durgapur to promote cooperative housing projects. Disposal of solid waste in a scientific way is also one of our important projects.

It is the first regional solid waste management project in the country. We recently finished constructing a truck terminus along NH 2, and there are plans for another one in Durgapur, and a central bus terminus. We have also started discussing the construction of the Raniganj bypass road that will connect NH 2 and NH 6.

Another major thrust area is to promote education among the more backward classes. We have funded various educational institutes to set up libraries and so on; in fact it is our goal to develop the region as an educational hub.

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