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Mittal iterates project promise

Bhubaneswar, Sept. 9: ArcelorMittal has reiterated its commitment to establish a Greenfield steel plant in Keonjhar district of Orissa.

Doubts were raised as it signed an MoU with Karnataka few months ago for the setting up of a six-million tonne steel plant near Bellary investing Rs 30,000 crore.

“We are committed to set up the steel plant in Patna tehsil in Keonjhar district,” said ArcelorMittal CEO Sanak Mishra at a meeting in Keonjhar on Wednesday.

Earlier on July 31, Mishra had met state industries and steel and mines minister, Raghunath Mohanty and reaffirmed his company’s commitment to the Orissa project.

“Mishra assured me that his company would not pull out of Orissa,” Mohanty had then told The Telegraph.

ArcelorMittal’s top executive had also given a written commitment to the state government a few months ago that the Orissa project would continue, said the minister.

The steel giant had signed an MoU with the Orissa government on December 21, 2006 for setting up a mega steel plant with an estimated cost of Rs 40,000 crore.

The project has made little progress.

Even though the Orissa government said that it would provide 8,000 acres for the proposed plant, it has not been able to acquire a single acre yet. Of the total 8,000 acres, 4,905.213 belong to private persons, 2,847.282 are government owned and and 754.688 acres are forest land.

While the state government claims that the land acquisition process is at an “advanced stage of completion”, the process has been delayed due to agitation by the displaced families under the banner of Mittal Pratirodh Manch. The committee agitated because they claimed that most of the land being acquired is fertile.

Industries minister Raghunath Mohanty said land acquisition was delayed because of the elaborate official procedures prescribed under Orissa Land Acquisition Act.

The company has already deposited Rs 25 crore with the government for land acquisition-related activities.

and held gram sabhas in eight of the 15 villages which would be affected, said a company official.

In October last, Mittal had told a British newspaper that his company may pull out of its plan to set up green field steel projects in Jharkhand and Orissa and look for alternative sites if land acquisition problems were not resolved soon.

Mittal had said that the delays in persuading farmers and others to sell the land required for building the plants were "unacceptable" to the company.

Mittal’s dissatisfaction over the delay in land acquisition and other clearances had fuelled speculations here that the steel giant may shift its project to Karnataka.But the company officials here ruled out such possibility

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