With Madhu Koda poised to replace Arjun Munda as Jharkhand chief minister, the steel industry -- which has lined up humungous investment in the state -- will draw some comfort. For, as minister of mines in the outgoing Cabinet, Koda traversed a fair bit of ground with the industry.
Steel makers feel the new government will address pending issues -- uppermost being a rehabilitation package for displaced villagers and a timeline for land acquisition -- on priority.
The Munda ministry had, ironically, approved a rehabilitation package, set a 183-day cut-off for land acquisition and was considering a special law to accelerate acquisition during its final days in office.
Yet the issue of mines remains unresolved. "With the rehabilitation package now approved, the land is taken care of, but the government needs to show us a mine block that will be reserved for us, so that we can go ahead with the investment," said Sajjan Jindal, vice-chairman and managing director, JSW Steel.
"They should expedite the processes of land and mines," added Jatinder Mehra, managing director, Essar Steel.
Of the 46 memoranda of understanding signed, entailing an investment of Rs 200,000 crore (Rs 2,000 billion), 12 investors have filed requisitions for land with the Jharkhand Industrial Development Corporation, while 10 have bought land.
The major steel companies that have submitted applications include Tata Steel, Essar Steel, JSW Steel, JSPL and Bhushan Steel. The combined land requirement for these projects is around 30,000 acres.
Mittal Steel India is expected to identify land this month. Geological and hydrological studies are complete and the company is awaiting reports on the three shortlisted sites.
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