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Tata seeks Orissa, Jharkhand help for mega projects

By Dillip Satapathy in Bhubaneswar
January 06, 2009 11:59 IST
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Tata Steel has linked the progress of its mega steel projects in Orissa and Jharkhand to the pro-active support of the respective state governments.

The steel major has proposed to set up a six-million-tonne steel plant in Orissa and a 12-million -tonne steel plant in Jharkhand.

Both the projects are marred by land acquisition, displacement and iron ore allotment issues and the company sees a major role of the state administrative machineries for their resolution.

"We are keen to start work on the Orissa steel project as quick as possible, but everything depends on the support of the state government," B Muthuraman, managing director, Tata Steel, told Business Standard.

He was, however, more blunt regarding the cause of delay in Jharkhand, saying, "The Jharkhand project is still in our mind, but it has got delayed because of the state government there."

Tata Steel had signed an MoU for its Orissa project in November 2004. But it is unable to start work at its proposed site in Kalinga Nagar due to local resistance.

Though the company is gradually recovering from the backlash of Kalinga Nagar police firing, which claimed the lives of 14 tribal participants in a protest against the Tata project on January 2, 2006, it is yet to get clear possession of the allotted land at the site due to continued stay of displaced persons.

Out of 1,200 families required to be shifted from the proposed site, about 700 families have been shifted so far. In fact, the pace of shifting to the rehabilitation colony built by the company has considerably slowed down over the past six months.

Asked when the rest of the families will be shifted, Muthuraman replied, "We are on the job, but the government has to play a proactive role."

He hoped all issues relating to land acquisition and iron ore allotment for the Kalinga Nagar project will be resolved within three months. "The Orissa project has already been delayed by three years and we will ensure that there is no further delay."

Muthuraman, however, was happy with the progress of the company's proposed 5-million-tonne steel plant in Chhattisgarh, saying, "There has been some progress in land acquisition and allotment of prospecting license for the project."

Despite problems with the company's 12-million-tonne greenfield project in Jharkhand, the 3-million-tonne capacity expansion of Tata Steel's existing plant at Jamshedpur is going on smoothly. "We have advanced the date of expansion work and it is now scheduled for completion by December 2010," he said.

On setting up of a SEZ at Gopalpur in Orissa, he said, "Tata Steel has entered into a joint venture with Tata Realty for the project. But there are some land issues which need to be sorted out," he added.

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Dillip Satapathy in Bhubaneswar
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