Groundwork for growth

Published : Apr 08, 2005 00:00 IST

Rapid infrastructural development enables the Asansol-Durgapur region to reinforce its claim to being an ideal destination for investors in eastern India.

THE Asansol-Durgapur belt in Bardhaman district, once known as the Ruhr of Bengal, is one of the most centrally located industrial zones in eastern India. The Kolkata airport and the Haldia port are within a radius of 200 km from this region. The road network, built around National Highway 2, has improved remarkably in the past few years. The region is also very well connected to the rest of West Bengal and the neighbouring States. With its existing facilities and new opportunities in the fields of metalwork, power-intensive industries, mining, iron and steel, engineering, petrochemicals, Information Technology (IT) and telecommunications, the Asansol-Durgapur region is making a strong bid to reinforce its claim to being an ideal destination for investors.

Acting as the chief agent for infrastructural growth and technological advancement, the Asansol Durgapur Development Authority (ADDA) has been giving shape to a host of industrial estates, growth centres and industrial and residential townships and creating opportunities for growth. The ADDA was established under the West Bengal Town and Country (Planning & Development) Act, 1979, by merging the Asansol Planning Organisation and the Durgapur Development Authority. Its jurisdiction extends over an area of 1,615.9 sq km, covering a population of around 30 lakhs, both rural and urban.

For the rapid industrialisation of the region, the ADDA has been promoting industrial estates and urban infrastructural development and housing schemes. Its objective is to provide one-stop solutions to industries and entrepreneurs. The industries under the jurisdiction of the Authority enjoy uninterrupted electricity supply from Dishergarh Power Supply Company Ltd (DPSCL), the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) and the West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB). Land has been given to the WBSEB to set up substations at Durgapur, Mangalpur and Asansol.

Narayan Swaroop Nigam, Chief Executive Officer of the ADDA, said:"We are giving equal importance to infrastructure development in the rural areas. We have implemented many projects, including roads and bridges, drainage, transport, water supply, irrigation, afforestation and electrification. We are getting even the most remote rural areas connected to the rest of the region through our road network."

The ADDA has also been developing a large number of small-scale and medium-scale units. It has not only allotted industrial land to various units but also developed infrastructure for industrial growth. The industrial projects at Raturia-Angadpur and Kamalpur in Durgapur subdivision and in the Mangalpur-Kalyanpur area of Asansol subdivision are results of the Authority's initiative. More than 257 acres (102.8 hectares) of land in the Raturia-Angadpur area and 40 acres (16 hectares) in Kamalpur have been allotted to different units. Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has transferred a sizable amount of land to the Authority for this purpose. At Mangalpur near Ranigunj, around 35 acres (14 ha) have been developed and allotted to various units.

The Export Promotion Industrial Park (EPIP) in Durgapur, promoted jointly by the Union Ministry of Commerce and the State Department of Commerce and Industries, will be spread over 148 acres (59.2 ha). The first phase of this park, covering 40 acres (16 ha), is already in operation. The entire project is executed by the ADDA. The project provides for the creation of industrial and social infrastructure of high standards, primarily for export-oriented units, and is being set up at a cost of Rs.220 million. The park is made of independent industrial plots with world-class infrastructure. It is given uninterrupted power supply and state-of-the-art telecommunication facilities. Many large companies such as Stollberg India Ltd and Supreme Industries have already set up their units here. IT is another thrust area of the ADDA, with special focus on IT-enabled services. For this, the Authority is developing a software park on a 50-acre (20 ha) plot.

Small local industries such as repair shops and oil and flour mills are also being encouraged. "In the last few years, local industries have come up in a big way in the region. As much as 70 per cent of the very small sector is local," said Nigam. ADDA's work in generating employment is not restricted to urban areas. "At the rural level, we are encouraging alternative crop cultivation, with emphasis on horticulture," Nigam said. Some of the new crops being encouraged include zetropha, lemon grass, white muslin, guava and papaya.

"One of our main thrusts is developing urban infrastructure. The towns have to be stretched to prevent further congestion; and with more industrialisation, the pressure on the resources of the town is going to increase tremendously. This can be a major problem," said Nigam. In order to combat this problem, the Authority has initiated housing projects with private participation. One of the most talked-about projects is the Bengal Shristi Township at Asansol. It is aimed at reducing congestion in the town and restoring its greenery, which was lost owing to unplanned industrial expansion. The project will be executed by Bengal Shristi and the Singapore-based SembCorp Infrastructure. The township, Shristinagar, will be spread over approximately 90 acres (36 ha) in Kalyanpur and is being set up at a project cost of Rs.350 crores.

The integrated township envisages the creation of housing for more than 7,000 families in a unique mixture of plotted land, houses and group housing structures. SembCorp has undertaken the master planning, detailed design and engineering and project consultancy of the township. Besides housing, Shristinagar will have all kinds of commercial and entertainment facilities, including shopping and entertainment complexes and institutional areas. The project will be developed and sold phase-wise.

A unique feature of Shristinagar is that the different housing areas are named after eastern classical ragas. The early phases will be named after morning ragas, while the later ones will have names of afternoon and evening melodies. For example, Saveri (group housing unit), Poorvi (apartments) and Ahiri (bungalow) are the earliest phases in the development of the new township and are all named after morning ragas.

The natural greenery and water bodies of the area will be maintained and enhanced. Three-fifths of the township will be pure natural environment comprising parks, ponds and a river.

"Shristinagar is being designed as the most modern and green habitat of the country by bringing in international quality," said Hemant Kanoria, director, Bengal Shristi. "Our objective is to create a living experience which is serene, homely, spacious and complete with all modern facilities like shopping, community centre, entertainment and health," Kanoria added.

Bengal Shristi Infrastructure Development Ltd is a joint venture company promoted by the ADDA and Shristi Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. Apart from Shristinagar, the company has also set up the Durgapur City Centre a multi-utility urban plaza spread over 3,70,000 square feet. Recently, it tied up with Country Inns & Suites, Carlson (Radisson Group), for constructing a business class deluxe hotel at Durgapur.

Bengal Shristi has also commenced the construction of the Ranigunj truck terminal, a vital infrastructure facility in the town of Ranigunj, which will help decongest the urban sprawl and assist in the urban regeneration of Ranigunj.

The ADDA also encourages private participation in the health sector. Chest and lung ailments are endemic in the region, particularly among the mine workers. The Authority has set up a rural hospital in Raniganj at a project cost of Rs.65 lakhs. A medical city, which will have a medical college, a hospital, a nursing college and a dental college, is also on the cards.

Aware of the fact that tourism is one area that has been neglected in the region, the Authority is trying to tap the modest tourist potential.. The Maithon dam area has been identified as a tourist destination because of its scenic beauty.

Area development is a holistic concept. The Authority can lay down the infrastructure and bring together all the relevant stakeholders, that is, government departments, private entrepreneurs, research organisations, township builders and local authorities. Going by its present activities, one can conclude that the ADDA has already done a commendable job and will no doubt continue to do good work.

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