Mumbai: With uncertainty over South Korean major Posco’s $12-billion steel project in Orissa ending, there could be good news in store for the much-delayed global steel giant ArcelorMittal’s 12 MTPA project in the state.
The Luxembourg-based steel major has been struggling to obtain regulatory approvals and start land acquisition for its Orissa project, which is presently progressing at a snail’s pace.
“We are awaiting environmental clearance for our Orissa project. We are very optimistic and committed to our India projects,” an ArcelorMittal spokesperson told PTI over phone.
“Out of the 15 gram sabhas, eight have peacefully concluded hearings on land acquisition. The Orissa Government and Keonjhar district administration is very co-operative,” the spokesperson said, adding the company has also applied for mining blocks in Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts.
Land acquisition has been a major issue in the mineral rich state, where domestic steel giant Tata Steel and South Korean company Posco have been struggling to get land to start their projects for the last six years.
Tata Steel’s 6 MTPA integrated steel plant at Kalinganagar Industrial Complex in Jajpur district of the state had earlier run into trouble following stiff opposition from locals and 14 people were killed in police firing on 2 January, 2006, while they were opposing construction of the plant’s boundary wall.
“You know how land acquisition is a major problem in Orissa, but things on the land acquisition front are progressing well at the proposed project site,” the spokesperson said.
ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steel-maker, led by NRI billionaire L N Mittal, had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Orissa Government to invest Rs 40,000-crore for its 12-MTPA steel plant at Keonjhar district, in 2006. The steel firm requires around 7,750-acres for its greenfield plant.
“There is a lot of progress happening on the land acquisition front at the project site. We are optimistic over ArcelorMittal’s project,” Orissa Steel and Mines Minister, Raghunath Mohanty, said.
Out of the 15 gram sabhas, eight have concluded hearings on land acquisition, the Minister said.
“We are planning to complete other gram sabha hearings soon,” he said.
Industrial Development Corporation (IDCO) chairman, Priyabrata Patnaik, said, “things are moving at a fast pace as far as land acquisition is concerned.”
The Union Environment Ministry recently gave its final green clearance to Posco’s 12-million tonne (MT) steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district.
The $12-billion integrated steel, mining and port project in Orissa is the single largest foreign investment in India.
ArcelorMittal, in 2005, signed an MoU with Jharkhand Government for construction of a 12-MTPA plant. It has already been allocated iron ore mines in West Singhbhum district, where it is awaiting clearance for more such deposits.
Faced with regulatory hurdles and protests over land acquisition, the company has moved to a new site near Bokaro from the earlier proposed Khunti-Gumla area.
ArcelorMittal has also inked an MoU with the Karnataka Government for a Rs 30,000-crore project. The company has paid Rs 600-crore for land acquisition and its estimated requirement of land is 4,000-hectares.