NAYACHAR a fragile island for industrial hub

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Nayachar is a 40 square kilometre island in the Hooghly River, near Haldia port in India’s West Bengal. It is the new site for a chemical hub that was originally proposed to be set up at Nandigram, a village in Midnapore district. Violent protests against land acquisition at Nandigram had claimed over 15 lives in early 2007. This forced the state government to look for a safer site. The Central Government is also backing the Left Front Government’s decision to implement the project at Nayachar. At a time when both the central and state governments are committed to industrial growth, it would be unrealistic to expect environment to get precedence over development. Besides, both the Congress and the Left parties are keen to avoid further tensions in a relationship which is blowing hot and cold over the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Nayachar at present has 3,000 illegal occupants. Most of them believe the upcoming hub holds out a new lease of life. Motorised country boats are the only link with port city Haldia, separated from the island by 1.5 kilometre span of water. Subhra Kanti Gupta files this report from India’s West Bengal.

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