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Since 1st March, 1999
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Tata Metaliks deadline for Bengal project

Calcutta, Feb. 18: Tata Metaliks will shift its focus to other projects if its expansion plan in Kharagpur does not take off by July this year.

The company had asked for 300 acres for the project from the Bengal government in the presence of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in February 2005.

“We are always evaluating various areas of business expansion. We have been waiting for the land for the past three years. The initial investment amount must have also gone up in the interim. We expect to get the land by July. If not, we will have to focus on other areas of expansion. However, the Bengal project remains the way it is,” said Harsh Jha, managing director of Tata Metaliks.

Refusing to disclose the nature of the other expansion plans or their exact locations, Jha said in all likelihood they would be located outside Bengal.

The West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) was entrusted with the responsibility to hand over the land for the expansion of the Kharagpur plant to the company.

Tata Metaliks has made an advance payment for the land. The owners were to receive Rs 3 lakh per acre for the single-crop land.

The company has paid Rs 8 crore, or 75 per cent of the money for the land, to the WBIDC till date.

Even though it had asked for 500 acres of contiguous land, the company has agreed to accept only 300 acres.

However, the WBIDC has acquired only 60 acres and though the project details were finalised, it could not be given any shape because of the non-availability of land.

“We had finalised the project with a certain land requirement in mind. How could we go ahead with only a fraction of that,” Jha said.

A 0.5-million-tonne billet caster plant and a blast furnace were slated to come up in Kharagpur.

Asked why the company waited so long for the project to start, Jha said the company had been busy integrating and managing its last two acquisitions.

“We always find things to do. For our overseas projects we are looking at Southeast Asian destinations,” said Jha.

The Calcutta-based company is the largest foundry grade pig iron manufacturer in the world.

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