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Axe on two MoUs

Ranchi, Nov. 17: A high-powered committee chaired by chief secretary S.K. Choudhary has scrapped two industrial MoUs, taking the number of annulled agreements to 36 out of 75 signed in the steel and cement sectors in eight years.

Following its decision against Pawanjai Steel & Power Limited and Rungta Mines Ltd yesterday, the committee is likely to recommend the state government to cancel the MoUs signed with the companies.

“Both companies have achieved nothing on the ground. At best, it can only be described as zero progress. So, the high-powered committee has taken a decision to cancel the MoUs of Rungta Mines and Pawanjai Steel,” industry secretary A.P. Singh told The Telegraph.

Pawanjai Steel, which had signed an MoU in 2004, had proposed to invest about Rs 200 crore to set up a sponge iron, steel and captive power plant in Lohardaga district.

Chaibasa-based Rungta Mines Limited had proposed to set up a 2.5 metric tonne (MT) per year capacity cement plant in West Singhbhum, proposing to invest over Rs 1,300 crore in the project.

Sources said that Pawanjai Steel had claimed to have bought a sizeable portion of land in Lohardaga from villagers, but upon verification it was found that there was no acquisition and the revenue authorities concerned had not recorded any mutation of land in favour of the company.

The panel also reviewed the progress of Tata Steel (Brownfield project), Jindal Steel & Power Limited (JSPL), Mukund Steel, Electrosteel Castings Limited (ECL), Corporate Ispat (Abhijeet Group), Burnpur Cement, Jupiter Cement, Prakash Ispat and Horizon Eximp.

Sources said the progress of Prakash Ispat and Horizon Eximp had also been poor but the panel did not take any decision, as cases were pending in Jharkhand High Court after the companies had challenged the state for issuing showcause notices earlier.

As far as Tata Steel’s expansion project is concerned, the company has asked the government for allocation of more water. Tata Steel also has been pursuing greater allocation of coal and iron ore.

JSPL has requested the government to expedite the process of acquiring an additional 400 acres around its existing plant in Patratu, which began production in 2010.

The committee, during its meeting, also discussed issues concerning land for ECL, which has invested Rs 8,000 crore in Chandankiyari, Bokaro.

Burnpur Cement Limited, Asansol, on the other hand, had proposed to set up a 1MT capacity plant in Patratu, Ramgarh, with an investment of around Rs 500 crore. Hazaribagh-based Jupiter Cement is planning to set up a unit in Seraikela-Kharsawan, proposing to invest Rs 90 crore.