Pradeep Pattanayak

Political slugfest over the mega steel plant to be set up at Mahakalpara in Kendrapara district, which was recently approved by the high power committee of the State government, has already begun. 

While the ruling BJD is claiming that the proposed steel plant, which is estimated to be established at a cost of about Rs 1 lakh crore, will immensely benefit the people of Kendrapara, Opposition parties-BJP and Congress- see the move as a trick by the ruling party to woo the people ahead of the Panchayat elections.

Arcelor Mittal Nippon Steel will set up the integrated steel plant, with a production capacity of 24 MTPA with the investment of Rs 1,02,272 crore. Within the complex, there will also be an 18.75MTPA cement plant. A time frame of seven years has been set for the plant to be completed and once the production starts, it will create direct employment for 16,000 people.  

“I hope the Arcelor Mittal’s plant will have a positive impact on other plants. They will also try to make their production at par with that of Mittal’s,” observed B S Pani, industries expert. 

Meanwhile, the Congress and BJP are claiming that the motive behind the government’s decision coming just at the time when Panchayat elections are round the corner is clear as crystal--to derive political mileage. 

Industries Minister Dibya Shankar Mishra in his reply to the House had informed that the State government had signed MoU with 50 companies for an investment of Rs 2,58,73 crore by October 2021. Of those, four companies including Mittal and POSCO had stepped down, resulting in the State losing lakhs of crores of investment. 

Referring to Industries Minister’s statement, the Opposition parties said the government’s approval for a mega steel plant to be set up by Arcelor Mittal is nothing but an election trick to woo the voters. The said company had signed an MoU in 2006 to set up a mega steel plant in Keonjhar district and later went back. “How the same company will again set up a mega steel plant?” they asked. 

“As educated unemployed youths are leaving the State for other areas in search of employment, it reflects badly on the government. With an aim to improve its image, the government has found this plan. However, we will be happy if the plant comes up,” said senior Congress leader and Jeypore MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati.

BJP Spokesperson Satyabrata Panda said Arcelor Mittal had come earlier too. It had proposed to set up a mega steel plant at Patna in Keonjhar district, investing Rs40,000 crores. Similarly, POSCO had proposed to set up a plant in Paradip and stepped out. With the Panchayat election approaching, the government is now thinking about the unemployed youths. However, if the plant at Mahakalpara really comes up, we will be happy.” 

Hitting out at the Opposition parties, the BJD countered. “Kendrapara district had been referred to as an industry-less district. The district will no longer be addressed so.  The mega steel plant will definitely make a difference in strengthening the district’s financial condition. The people of the district will be benefitted,” said Pratap Deb, BJD MLA.