3,000 BSF men to guard SAIL project in Chhattigarh

New Delhi: The Centre has decided to deploy 3,000 paramilitary personnel to guard a new mining project of Steel Authority of India (SAIL) in Chhattisgarh which is facing serious threat from Maoists.

Border Security Force personnel, who will be guarding the project, will also be provided to construct a 235-km-long railway track to transport ore slurry through the Naxal-hit area to Bhillai steel plant, which may have to stop production in three to four years if new source of iron ore is not found.

State-owned SAIL had requested for five battalions (5,000 personnel) of paramilitary forces to guard the Rowghat iron ore mines spread over 2,030 hectares in Kanker and Narayanpur districts, but the Home Ministry has decided to provide three battalions initially on a priority basis. The public sector undertaking has agreed to pay for the security forces.

SAIL had approached the Home Ministry seeking its help for the development work of Rowghat mines which has over 500 million tonnes of iron ore reserves. The steel producing company had received environment and forest clearances way back in 2009 for developing the prolific mines, located in the Bastar region of the state, but could not make much progress because of Naxalite activities in the area.