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Videocon pulls plug on Rs 20,000 cr Bengal project

Land acquisition seen as major hurdle, group also cites lack of coal linkage

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It is curtains for yet another large-scale investment in West Bengal. group today said it is unlikely to go ahead with a Rs 20,000-crore steel and power plants at Jamuria in West Bengal.

There were speculations that faced by hurdles, the consumer electronics major might relocate the project. The minimum land requirement for the project is about 1,800 to 2,000 acres.

"We will not be able to go ahead with the project at present. However, if the state government wants it, it has to come up with some assurance regarding coal linkage. Then, we can consider it in the later stages," said Videocon Managing Director Rajkumar N Dhoot, on the sidelines of an Assocham meet here.

Videocon had signed a memorandum of understanding with the former Left Front government for setting up a 3 million tonne integrated steel plant and a 1,200 mega watt power plant way back in October 2007. While there were issues related to coal linkage, CIL had also raised objections stating that the area has coal reserves.

"We are not sitting on any land here and had neither acquired any. However, if required there is enough land to be acquired," Dhoot said. The group director, Anirudh Dhoot, in a recent visit to the state had even sought state intervention in acquiring land.

However, as per the land acquisition policy by Banerjee government, the state will not intervene in the process of acquisition for industrial projects. The state government was also against allotment of special economic zones (SEZ) in the state. Following which, even Videocon Group had approached the Centre to withdraw its IT/ITES SEZ project in Jalpaiguri citing the "business outlook".

This will add to the list of projects that have gone out of West Bengal in the near future — including the Rs 2,000 crore Tata Nano plant, Rs 96,000 crore PCPIR at Nayachar and Rs 70,000 crore nuclear power plant at Haripur. The state’s industrial image was further hurt by the pullout of ABG Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT) from its operations at Haldia Dock complex on October 31. More than 650 workers lost their jobs following the HBT decision, which was triggered by political interventions in Haldia.

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