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Steel plants go slo-mo - Land, mine hold up plans

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By AMIT GUPTA
  • Published 6.10.14
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Ranchi, Oct. 5: At least 10 major steel projects worth around Rs 1 lakh crore have been hanging in the balance in Jharkhand for years, thanks to government’s red-tapism and prevailing uncertainty over land and mine lease.

Greenfield projects of ArcelorMittal, Tata Steel, JSW Steel Ltd, Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL), Bhushan Power & Steel Ltd, Monnet Ispat and Energy Limited, among others, have failed to make any significant headway in the past several years, despite close monitoring by a host of panels, including Project Monitoring Group (PMG) of Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI).

The only silver linings have been the expansion of existing Tata Steel plant in Jamshedpur, a wire and rod mill at Patratu set up by JSPL and the upcoming plant of Electrosteel Castings Limited in Chandankiyari, Bokaro.

The project monitoring group reviewed the status of quite a few steel projects in Jharkhand on September 15.

The Union steel secretary’s meeting with the state high-ups on September 26 was postponed. It is likely to take place sometime in October.

Remarks made by the state industry department about various projects in agenda papers of these meeting — “no remarkable progress has been made so far”, “pending with the forest department,” “hearing shall be expedited shortly,” etc. — stand testimony to the slow progress of several projects that had the potential to transform the entire socio-economic condition of the state.

“Companies are supposed to purchase majority of raiyati land on their own. But, the new land acquisition Act, effective from January 1, 2014, is more stringent. Besides, the recent de-allocation of coal blocks by the Supreme Court has made things difficult for the companies, which are seeking to set up new plants,” said a senior representative of a steel company, which signed an MoU with the state in 2005 but has been unable to make much progress on the ground.

Further, the state government’s decision to ban mining where renewal of second and subsequent leases is pending has hit SAIL, Tata Steel, Hindustan Copper Ltd, Hindalco Industries Ltd, among others.

Government records suggest JSPL made little progress in acquiring land for its steel plant at Asanboni (East Singhbhum).

Bhushan Power & Steel Ltd has been asked to submit revised land needs to revenue and land reforms department. Monnet Ispat & Energy Ltd, which signed an MoU ti set setting up a 1.5MTPA integrated steel plant in Bokaro, has not made any progress since 2003.

Steel behemoth ArcelorMittal is caught in a land-related hurdle.

“Setting up a big steel project is takes time. Serious players will complete projects,” said state director (industries) Dipankar Panda.

Hanging in balance

ArcelorMittal: Greenfield plant in Bokaro
Tata Steel: Greenfield plant in Seraikela-Kharsawan
JSW Steel: Steel mill in Ranchi
Bhushan Power: Steel & captive power plant in East Singhbhum