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Foundry SEZ in Howrah gets ministry approval

Kolkata (India) - The Union commerce ministry has given an in-principle approval for a 250-acre foundry special economic zone (SEZ) within the proposed Foundry Park in Howrah on 925 acres. It will relocate at least 150 of the polluting 300 foundry units operating in and around that area. The foundry park, supposed to be a non-polluting one with common facilities for pollution control installed, is expected to attract investments up to Rs 2000 core.

The Supreme Court in 2005 had given a directive to the West Bengal government to close down foundry units that were polluting the area. The government, following the directive, formed a special purpose vehicle (SPV), Foundry Clusters Development Association (FCDA), along with the Indian Foundry Association (IFA) to set up the foundry park.

SC Dugar, the outgoing chairman of IFA, at its 56th annual general meeting said although the equity of the promoters has to be decided, the SPV will go ahead with the Rs 120-crore project.

"There have been hiccups in the progress of the project especially in terms of land procurement. Though WBIDC, after acquiring 77.93 acres, handed over the land to FCDA in papers, the SPV could not take physical possession because of troubles relating to Nandigram," Dugar said.

So far, around 500 acres have been procured, of which 77.93 acres have been acquired and the rest purchased indirectly. The FCDA is currently negotiating with the landowners for direct purchase of the remaining land, Dugar said.

He said land prices in Bengal have increased after Nandigram, and it is costing the FCDA at least 40% more than the price it had paid for land before the Nandigram issue.

Tapash Chatterjee, chief executive officer of the FCDA, said all formalities relating to land procurement and environment are expected to be cleared by January 2008 and by mid-2008, infrastructure for setting up foundry units would be in place.

The foundry park would accommodate 120 units and 60 allied units. All those who have booked space would be allotted land through a lottery, Chatterjee said.

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