Another Firm Threatens to Leave Bengal

Financial Express 2009-07-30, Kolkata

West Bengal may lose another project, this one worth Rs 600 crore due to procedural prob.lems and delays in clearing a project.

US-based Astonfield Renewable Resources Ltd. which was short list.ed by the Kolkata Municipal Corpo.ration to implement a 54 mw power project from solid waste of Dhapa (where all the solid wastes of Kolkata are dumped), is considering to pull out if it does not get the required clearances by October.

Sourabh Sen co-chairman of the company, said: "It is two years now that we have given the KMC to get all required clearances for the project. We had more than 50 meeting sat various levels but nothing actually moved after we were short listed.

Seven companies applied for the project and Astonfield was the only company, which got technical clearance from KMC because of its tie-up with Veolia, the UK-based world's leading environmental management company.

The project requires 30 acres of land ‚Ä? 20 acres for the plant and 10 acres for waste filling -- from the 186 hectares, which makes Dhapa, Kolkata‚Äôs dumping ground. "But the corporation does not seem to be willing to trigger off the process for land allotment "Sen said.

"The corporation authorities have asked me to 'meet with Trinamul Supreme Mamata Banerjee to take an assurance from her that her party will not create any problem, when 30 acres of Dhapa land is transferred to Astonfield. But why should I, as an in.vestor, meet someone who is not a competent authority for the project, Sen said.

With the 54mw project coming up entailing an investment of Rs 600 crore, the corporation could have used the entire 186 hectares or 457 .606 acres for productive purposes.

But it does not seem to be willing to produce green energy or make any productive use of Dhapa, Sen alleged.

Besides land, there are a number of other-clearances that the company needs to get from different autbor1.ties. This also takes time because of the, absence of a single window sys.tem.

However, I have sought Mamata Banerjee's appointment and this is the last effort the company will make to implement the project here. If it does not work, Astonfield is going to pullout of the project, "Sen insisted.

Astonfield and the French power major Areva have entered into a strategic partnership to implement 100 mw of biomass power plants across India at an estimated cost of Rs 550- 630 crore. Work on the first 10 mw plant at Gangarampur in West Bengal is scheduled to begin in the last quarter of the fiscal. The compa.ny has got all required clearances for the project.

Astonfield has outlined plans of generating a total of 635 mw of green energy in India with a mix portfolio of solar; biomass and solid waste. The company has plans to enter into new .verticals of offshore wind, tidal energy and solar thermal, Sen said.