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Mittal still on steel course

Jamshedpur, April 23: Chief minister Madhu Koda today denied here that Mittal Steel has withdrawn its proposed steel plant project from Jharkhand.

Koda declared that Mittal Steel is still very keen to invest in the state. “A meeting with representatives of Mittal Steel in fact will take place at the state capital on April 27 and various issues related to an early launch of the project will be discussed at the meeting,” he said.

The chief minister, however, made it clear that interests of the state government would be kept uppermost in mind while “negotiating” with the global steel major.

According to Koda, priority in allotting iron-ore blocks will be given to such investors, who will ensure value- addition.

This has been the stand of the state government over the past several years despite protests from adjoining states like West Bengal and a somewhat significant silence by the Centre.

The NDA government had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mittal Steel for setting-up a 12-million tonne per annum steel plant in the state at an estimated investment of Rs 40,000 crore.

The project also involved mining operations and setting-up a 2,500 MW capacity power plant.

Parrying persistent questions on Mittal shifting base to Orissa or elsewhere, the chief minister reiterated: “The project is still on. The state government will provide all necessary help to ensure that the project kicks-off at the earliest,” he added.

Koda said the final draft of the rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) policy is in the last stages of finalisation.

The policy would be placed first at the UPA steering committee meeting, he said, before it is sent to the state cabinet for approval.

The rehabilitation and resettlement policy has been broadly been divided into three parts--compensation, rehabilitation and employment. The policy should be announced by the end of May this year, he hoped.

On the issue of ownership rights to 86 slums in and around Jamshedpur, the chief minister said that he has asked for details pertaining to Schedule V under Tata lease from the land and revenue department. “The issue of ownership rights of 86 slums is a long pending issue. The matter is before the High Court. The government will have to tread cautiously before taking any decision,” he said.

During his stay in the steel city, the chief minister reviewed the progress of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) scheme undertaken in rural areas. He also inspected the Tata-Ranchi Road and expressed dissatisfaction over the construction work.

The state government had sanctioned about Rs 8 crore last year for necessary repairs.

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