The Telegraph
Thursday, November 23, 2017

Steel low on Jindal list for Bengal

Calcutta, Sept. 24: JSW Group has all but ruled out a steel plant in Bengal at least for the next five years even as it prepares to lay the foundation stone for a cement facility at Salboni, offering a bounty to the poll-bound Mamata Banerjee-government.

Sources said Mamata would flag off the 2.4- million-tonne (mt) cement unit on January 6, two days before the second edition of Bengal Global Business Summit.

"We hope to put up the plant in a year. It shall call for an investment of Rs 700 crore," Sajjan Jindal, chairman and managing director of the $11-billion conglomerate, said.

Around 1,000 people will be employed during the construction phase and 150 during commercial production. The Telegraph had first reported about the cement plant on August 17.

Jindal, however, did not hold out any hope for the steel unit that would have entailed a bigger investment and generated many more jobs.

The JSW chief was in the city to attend a seminar on the metal sector organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industries and meet Mamata at the state secretariat Nabanna this afternoon.

"We plan to scale up JSW's production to 30mt by 2020 from 18mt. It will all be a brownfield expansion at the existing locations of Vijaynagar and Dolvi," Jindal said.

The company, which had acquired the Dolvi plant in Maharashtra from Ispat Industries in 2010, plans to expand its capacity to 15mt and the Vijayanagar unit in Karnataka to 14mt. The facility at Salem in Tamil Nadu will remain at about 1.3mt.

However, by virtue of its investment in the cement plant, JSW is likely to keep the "ecosystem" at Salboni in West Midnapore and Nabanna happy and also retain control over 4,000 acres of land, a precious commodity in Bengal. The unit will require 134 acres, Biswadip Gupta, president (corporate affairs) of JSW, said.

Jindal indicated that a 300- megawatt (MW) power plant might also be set up at Salboni at a cost of Rs 2,000 crore.

JSW held 4268.77 acres from 2008 for a 10mt steel and 1620MW power plant but the projects suffered a setback because of uncertainties over key raw materials such as iron ore and coal.

The company agreed to part with 294 acres last December to contain protests from land givers against the delay.

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