ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steel manufacturer, is finding it difficult to acquire land for its 6 million tonne per annum (mtpa) steel plant in Jharkhand despite subdued local protest.
The company, which was earlier targeting to complete the process by end-March, has so far been able to sign the ikraar naama for only 560 acres, a company spokesperson said. “We have applied for approval from the competent body of Jharkhand government for purchase of this land and the approval is expected soon.”
The single location plant is to come up in two phases of 3 million tonne each, requiring 2500 acres of land. The company had said in October 2010 that it was hoping to acquire 1,000 acres by December and the remaining by end March.
Officials blame the delay on procedural delays.
Ikraar naama is a written agreement the company needs to sign with landholders wishing to sell their land for the project. Once this agreement is signed, the company, along with the state authorities, has to verify the land documents before it can acquire the patch. This makes the process a long and tedious one.
“In fact, this is what is taking a lot of time. Most of the land records are not updated for the last 30 years and there are no succession records too,” said a state government source.
According to the spokesperson, the pace of land acquisition depends on the involvement and cooperation of various stakeholders and facilitators. Hence, it is difficult to predict when the land acquisition process will be completed, he said.
ArcelorMittal had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Jharkhand government in 2005 to set up a 12 mtpa steel plant in the state. The facility was also supposed to accompany a 750 megawatt (mw) power plant. The total investment planned for the project was over `50,000 crore.
Later, in September 2010, the company decided to bifurcate its original plan into two 6 million tonne plants at two different locations in the state.
“We are exploring options (for the remaining 6 million tonne plant) and will inform once we have reached a decision. But we are firm on sticking with our MoU for setting up a 12 million tonne steel capacity in Jharkhand,” the spokesperson said.
However, while the company is seriously pursuing the Jharkhand project, sources say its Orissa plan is on the back burner for the moment as it wants to focus on Jharkhand and Karnataka.
“We remain committed to our proposed project at Keonjhar (Orissa) and have successfully concluded 8 out of 15 gram sabhas,” the spokesperson said, without revealing more details.
ArcelorMittal had plans to set up a 12 million tonne steel plant in Orissa in four phases and had signed an MoU with the state government in 2006.
The steelmaker’s third proposed project, a 6 mtpa steel plant in Karnataka, is expected to be the first one to take off as B S Yeddyurappa, the state’s chief minister, had recently said that he expected the construction of the plant to begin by May and would hand over the entire 1,500 acres of land by end of April.