The Government of India introduced the concept of chemical hubs, calling them Mega-Chemical Industrial Estates (MCIES) in 2005, but a year later enlarged it and introduced the concept of Petroleum, Chemicals ad Petrochemicals Investment region (PCPIRs).
Nandigram was scheduled to be one of these. The site is located in East Medinipur district of West Bengal, India. The place is about 160km away from Kolkata.
Nandigram was designated as Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region and a special economic zone (SEZ).
The notification for land acquisition was published in 2005, but the actual conflict began in January 2007 when the acquisition program started . The local people, particularly the farmers, had been protesting against the Communist Party of India (Marxist) government to acquire agricultural land for setting up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
West Bengal police fired on protestors on March 14, 2007 killing 14 people at Nandigram . A mob of nearly 5,000 villagers in Nandigram bloc in East Midnapore district fought against the police and security personnel .
This incidence played an important role in the politics of West Bengal for next few years. Mamata Banerjee the leader of opposition of the then west Bengal assembly widely used this issue along with the political slogan ‘Ma Mati Manush’ (Mother, Land, People) in their election campaigns. Trinmool Congress Party (TMC) took the full advantage of the acquisition scare among the local villagers. With her 'Ma-Mati-Manush' slogan, she hijacked the issues from the Left parties and win the assembly election in 2011 [3, 4].
The state cabinet later endorsed a plan to locate the Indonesia-based Salim group's chemical complex on the strip of land, called Nayachar (new sandbank) along the Haldi river by the West Bengal government.
The chemical hub would be set up as a joint venture project of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation Ltd and New Kolkata International Development. Indian Oil Corporation would be the anchor investor there. The NKID comprises three companies including the Salim Group of Indonesia.
According to Down to Earth, "The chemical hub is to be a 5050 joint venture between the New Kolkata International Development, a company promoted by the Salim group, and the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation. The state wants to make the hub part of a petroleum, chemical, petrochemical investment region that would include existing petrochemical plants such as HPL, Mitsubishi and South Asian Petrochem in Haldia. Nayachar will be connected to the petrochemical hub, Haldia, by a bridge. It is expected the region will attract investments worth Rs 440 billion."