Shimla: Despite there being a strong anti cement lobby in the Himalayan state, but the state government in defiance of a vibrant green lobby and public interest today yet again pandered to the private sector by approving another cement plant in a climatically and environmentally fragile zone.
Presided over by chief minister Mr Virbhadra Singh and co chaired by industry minister Mr Mukesh Agnihotri, a high powered single window clearance authority approved a cement plant of 3.5 million ton annual capacity to be set up by M/s Reliance Cement Co Pvt Ltd in Nerwa Tehsil of Chopal is Shimla district.
It would be worthwhile to mention that ACC, Ambuja Cements and Jaypee Cements have already setup large cement plants in the state that have clogged road transport infrastructure and caused immense damage to tourism industry. In fact the Himachal Pradesh High Court did impose a Rs 100 crore fine on one of the plants for having constructed the plant in contravention of state environment laws.
Announcing the single window authority nod for the project, a state government spokesman said that it would attract an investment of Rs 3400.72 crore and provide employment to only 350 people. The project proposes to manufacture both cement and clinker.
Other projects approved by the authority include a high electricity consumptive unit by M/s Amba Metal Melting Furnace Point to be set at Gagret in Una district. The proposed industrial unit plans to invest Rs. 35.99 crore for manufacture of rods and sheets of iron, aluminium and brass. The unit has a potential of employing 54 persons.
The authority also gave its nod to M/s Himadri Ferro Alloys Pvt. Ltd for setting up a Rs 309.64 crore unit at Gagret for manufacture of ferro sillicon. The unit has an employment potential for 520 people.
Included in the 12 other new project proposals approved was one by M/s Barmendra Agro Tech Pvt. Ltd, for setting up of an industrial undertaking for controlled atmosphere cold storage facilities. The project involves an investment of Rs. 102.06 crore with employment potential to 100 persons
A proposal by M/s CDR Agro’s, who has proposed to invest Rs. 33.16 crore for manufacturing of starch & allied products was approved, so was the one by M/s Himalaya Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd., who has proposed to invest Rs. 150 crore, for manufacturing of caustic soda lye, chlorine, hydrogen gas, salicylic acid, hydrochloric acid etc.
The single window authority also approved expansion/revised proposals of M/s Abbott Healthcare Pvt. Ltd., who has proposed to invest Rs. 87.87 crore, for manufacturing of pharmaceutical formulations, M/s DP Chocolates, Unit-II, who has proposed to invest Rs. 72.85 crore, for manufacture of chocolates & chocolate products, sugar confectionary containing cocoa, compounds, chips, dips & pastes and M/s Theon Pharmaceuticals Ltd, who has proposed to invest Rs. 25.83 crores, for manufacture of tablets, capsules.
M/s Loreal International Ltd was also given approval in principle for setting up their unit in the State.
Chief Minister said that keeping in view the increasing demand of land by the entrepreneurs who are keen to invest in the state, construction of double stroyed buildings in the already existing compounds would be considered.
In all, approval for the 12 new projects and 7 expansion and revised proposals today, the government expects Rs 4408.64 of fresh investments into the state that is expected to create 2425 new jobs.
The officers present at the meeting included Mr P. Mitra, acting chief secretary, Mr V.C. Pharka, Principal Secretary, Tourism, Mr Tarun Shidhar, financial commissioner revenue & forests, Dr. Shrikant Baldi, principal secretary, finance and excise and taxation, Mr SKBS Negi, principal secretary, multi power project and power, Mr RD Dhiman, principal secretary, industries, Mr Vineet Kumar, member secretary, H.P. Pollution Control Board, and Mr Rajender Singh, director of industries.