`We shall do everything to attract investments'

Published : Apr 08, 2005 00:00 IST



Interview with Bansa Gopal Chaudhury, Chairman, ADDA.

Bansa Gopal Chaudhury, Chairman of the Asansol Durgapur Development Authority (ADDA) and Minister for Cottage and Small Scale Industries, Government of West Bengal, believes that the sky is the limit for the Durgapur-Asansol region's scope for development. He spoke of the ADDA's work in the development of the region and its future projects in an interview he gave Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay. Excerpts:

What are the thrust areas of the ADDA's activities at present?

Our immediate thrust area is infrastructure development in the Asansol-Durgapur industrial belt. Other than developing industrial estates, we are working on improving our road network and water supply and setting up infrastructure for educational institutions such as colleges and schools. Recently, we provided the B.B. College in Asansol Rs.10 lakhs as aid for setting up a laboratory for its recently introduced postgraduate course in physics.

We also work constantly with the municipal bodies and help them in their various activities. Within Asansol town, we have started a road development project worth Rs.3 crores. A new route is being developed from Senraleigh to the Asansol bypass at a project cost of Rs.1.5 crores. This will be the route for the circular bus service. We are also building a satellite township in Kalyanpur through Bengal Shristi - a joint venture company formed by the ADDA and Shristi Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. It is a Rs.350-crore project, which will provide housing to 7,000 families. Within a year 2,000 houses will be completed.

We are also setting up an administrative building in Asansol and a market complex near Asansol court. Another commercial complex is coming up by the G.T. Road, mainly for those who have been displaced owing to the development work in the region.

Our road projects include linking the rural and backward areas with the main townships - Rs.75 lakhs has been invested in developing roads in Pandaveshwar, Rs.55 lakhs in Ruidaspara, which is a very backward region, and Rs.65 lakhs in Andal.

Moreover, the new Ranigunj bypass, which should be open to vehicular traffic soon, will reduce the congestion in the region considerably. The rail-link has improved quite a lot from what it was earlier. In fact, it is very good now. But we need railway sheds for goods urgently. We have proposed the construction of one between Durgapur and Ranigunj.

Our work is not just to help in roping in investments. We want a better life for the people here. Earlier on there was no proper sewerage system in Durgapur. But we have introduced it. This year alone we have invested Rs.10 crores on water supply.

With the kind of scope for industrialisation that the region has, do you foresee a water crisis, considering how dry the region is?

It is true that the Asansol-Durgapur region is very dry. We are taking all measures to ensure the supply of both drinking water and water for industries through various pipeline projects. The Rs.20-crore Durgapur Water Supply Project is one such. The entire area under the Durgapur Municipal Corporation will benefit from this project. We are seeing a huge growth in this region, not just industrially.

The township already has a city centre and many schools, colleges and housing and shopping complexes are coming up in addition to the existing ones. So the demand for water will increase tremendously in the near future. This project, which is to be implemented in two phases, should solve that problem.

Mangalpur is also growing fast industrially and we are setting up a water supply project for the various industries and the people living there. This is a Rs.10-crore project handled entirely by us.

There is also the Rs.12-crore Jamuria Water Supply scheme, a three-year project, the first phase of which is already under way. Apart from these, wherever we hear there is water shortage, we try and rectify the situation, as in DPEP Colony in Asansol, where we have started a water supply project for Rs.1 crore. Another project, in Andal, will be implemented soon, which will benefit 20,000 people in the area.

Will this permanently solve the water problem in the region?

I am afraid not. It will work for the time being, but the demand will keep increasing as more and more investments are made here. We are assessing the situation and trying to find a permanent solution.

What is the status of the two new truck termini that are coming up?

As you know, we already have one operating truck terminus in Durgapur, which can accommodate 250 vehicles. We are setting up another one at Punjabi More in Ranigunj on a 10-acre (4.05-hectare) plot. This terminus will have all the necessary facilities including a garage, baths, restrooms and a restaurant. We are planning another one on the Asansol bypass.

We are also setting up a container facility through a joint venture with a Kolkata-based company.

How is ADDA going to tackle the pollution problem that will inevitably arise in an industrial region?

We are in regular touch with the Pollution Control Board and we keep a close watch on the pollution level in the region. Some industries have been fined for not adhering to the norms and two or three have been warned. We also require more trees in the region and are always encouraging various housing projects to remain as green as possible.

What are your plans for promoting tourism?

We are in talks with Peerless Hotels. They want to start a package tour of the region and its surrounding areas. The Taj group and Radisson are also planning to set up hotels here. We are also discussing with the State Tourism Department the need to renovate the Maithon dam area, as we think that can be a major tourist attraction because of its scenic beauty.

Are you happy with the industrial investment that has come in so far?

Last year we had a total investment of Rs.1,000 crores, almost double the amount we had the previous year. In Kakshya alone, where we have set aside 1,000 acres (405 ha) of land for industrial development, 35 new industries have come up over the last one and a half years. But we are not satisfied. We want more investments and we will do whatever is necessary to get them. We also need to revive the many sick public sector undertakings in the region. We got no support from the earlier Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre in our efforts, but we are optimistic about the present government. However, to revive these industries we need more support from the Central government.

One very positive sign is the turnaround of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL). It is finally out of the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) and is even making cash profits. This is a big boost for all the industries in the region. I feel the sky is the limit for us. Our government is aware of the fact that two or three areas need to be developed outside Kolkata, and Asansol-Durgapur region is heading in that direction.

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