JSW Steel, promoted by industrialist Sajjan Jindal, is set to return a bulk of its land at Salboni to the Bengal government, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday.
Speaking at a public rally in Salboni, West Midnapore, the chief minister said the Jindals would give back a chunk of the plot which lies unutilised and a new industry would come up there.
“Once there was nothing in Salboni. The Left Front government allotted land and fled. I came to power in 2011 and inaugurated the Jindal group’s factory here. Now I have another piece of good news for you. The Jindal group will return the stretch of land that they had taken from the government but did not use for industrial purposes. We would set up a new industry on that stretch. Salboni will get a new big industry soon,” Mamata said at the rally.
This is the first official confirmation from the Bengal government that it is in the process of taking back a significant parcel of land from the JSW Group. The Jindals have initiated the process after the Trinamul government expressed its willingness for the transfer and a detailed land survey of the area had begun.
Sources said the Jindals have indicated they are willing to part with about 3,000-3,500 acres of land at West Midnapur’s Salboni — 160km northwest of Calcutta — where a 10 million tonne per annum (MTPA) integrated steel plant had been planned in 2006.
JSW Bengal Steel, a subsidiary of JSW Steel — India’s largest domestic steelmaker by output — was given a lease of 4,700-odd acres of land by the then Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government to set up a steel mill.
However, a cocktail of events, especially the Jindals’ inability to secure iron ore linkage from the neighbouring Odisha and the cancellation of coal blocks by the Supreme Court in 2014, led them to eventually shelve the project.
The political violence led by the Maoists in the run-up to the Assembly elections in 2011 did not exude confidence among the investors either.
Later in 2015, JSW Cement, a company belonging to the $22-billion JSW Group, announced setting up a cement grinding unit of 3.8 MTPA capacity. Equipped with a captive power plant, railway siding, housing for employees and a helipad, the cement unit is now operational and spread across 400-500 acres.
Sources at the JSW Group, whose portfolio of businesses includes steel, cement, power, infrastructure and paint among others, indicated they would like to keep a part of the plot for future expansion.
The plot is now protected with a 34km boundary wall and is levelled. The chief minister did not elaborate on what could come up there.