Amid objections by several ministers, the Punjab Cabinet Wednesday gave the go-ahead to bid for setting up a Bulk Drug Park at a cost of Rs 1,878 crore at Bathinda on a part of the land of Bathinda Thermal Plant.
The Centre has launched a new scheme for establishment of three such parks in the country. Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal is learnt to be inclined to get a Bulk Drug Park at Bathinda, his Assembly constituency. The Cabinet on Wednesday empowered Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to bid for getting the park in the state.
However, several ministers opposed the move. They raised their objection in the Cabinet meeting too. Starting from Industries Minister Sunder Sham Arora, who is learnt to have told the Cabinet that the park would not only come up on land worth Rs 1,000 crore but the state would have to provide a subsidy on power supply to the park.
Also, a few ministers said that the drug park would be a hazardous industry and setting it up in a city would be a source of pollution for the residents. Another objection raised by the ministers was that if the government is willing to give relaxation to new industry in the form of drug park, then the existing industries will also seek relaxations and it will be unjust not to extend the relaxations to them as well.
The ministers also stated that if the relaxations and subsidy is given to this park, then more industrial parks coming up at Fatehgarh Sahib and Ludhiana would also become claimants for the relaxations and subsidy.
The Finance Minister, it is learnt, argued in its favour stating the government should look at industrialisation to provide employment to the masses. He also argued that the thermal plant was also a red-category unit.
Amarinder, it is learnt, told the Cabinet that the state should bid for the park and see the result as many states would be bidding for the park.
The Cabinet then authorised the CM to bid for the park.
Sources said while the Cabinet meeting was specially called to discuss the drug park, the ministers resented that they were not handed over the agenda of the item in advance. Later, it was brought as table agenda. “We did not know what all was on the agenda. We do not know what is the criterion for setting up the park,” said a minister on condition of anonymity. “How could we discuss an issue if we did not know what all was required?”
The minister indicated that there were differences of opinion among the ministers in the Sub-Committee constituted by the Cabinet in its last meet over the issue.
The Cabinet Sub-Committee, comprising Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Industries and Commerce Minister Sunder Sham Arora, Revenue Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar and Housing & Urban Development Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, was mandated to submit their report to the Cabinet to enable the state to submit its proposal before the last date of September 27. However, the Centre extended the last date.
The Cabinet Sub-Committee was asked to examine a slew of incentives, including subsidized rates for power, effluent treatment, water steam solid waste treatment, monthly warehouse charges, monthly park maintenance charges and annual land lease charges, to get good score in the valuation of location of the project by Government of India. The Sub- Committee was also asked to give its recommendations to amend the Industrial & Business Development Policy 2017 for introducing interest subvention scheme for the Bulk Drug Pharma Park.
The estimated cost of the project is Rs1,878 crore, including cost of trunk infrastructure and common infrastructure facilities. The GoI grant would be Rs 1,000 crore and Rs 878 crore would be contributed by the state government.
The Cabinet, in its earlier meeting on June 22, 2020, had approved transfer of 1,764 acres of land of thermal plant at Bathinda to PUDA. Of this, an area of 1,320 acres has been identified for the Bulk Drug Park.
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