Bengal mulls eco-tourism, fisheries village at Nayachar

Kolkata, Dec 21 (IANS) The West Bengal government was considering several projects, including a fisheries village, eco-tourism hub and a solar plant for Nayachar, an island on the Hooghly river in East Midnapore district, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday.

The 64 square km island came into focus during the last years of the erstwhile Left Front government, which had sought to set up a petroleum, chemicals and petrochemicals investment region there, after a planned chemical hub project faced problems due to protests by peasants led by the then opposition Trinamool Congress.

The Nayachar proposal too fell through, due to opposition from the Trinamool, which claimed the project would create environmental hazards. Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee had instead mooted setting up of an eco-park.

But after the Mamata Banerjee government came to power in 2011, its plans for an eco-tourism hub in Nayachar hit a roadblock with the union environment and forests ministry seeking certain clarifications from the state government as a thermal power plant was also proposed along with the eco-tourism project.

On Monday, Banerjee went around Nayachar with a group of industrialists trying to figure out the island’s suitability for eco-tourism or other similar projects.

Later, addressing a rally at Nandigram in East Midnapore, Banerjee said her government was planning to promote an eco-tourism project on the island.

“We will see what can be done at Nayachar. We are working on several ideas like a fisheries village, an eco-tourism project and a solar plant. We will discuss and take a decision,” she said.

Banerjee, however, firmly ruled out construction of a chemical hub. “We won’t allow any chemical hub there.”

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