Is ArcelorMittal putting Odisha project on back burner?

Bhubaneswar: If Industrial Promotion and Investment Corporation of Orissa Ltd (IPICOL)’s recent commencement of physical and financial progress verification for extension of steel projects’ MoUs in the state is anything to go by, global steel giant ArcelorMittal is understood to have put its Odisha project on the back burner. 
 
According to officials, while about 45 steel projects including Posco, Jindal, ArcelorMittal, Bhusan, Tata, and Essar have applied for renewal of the validity of MoUs, the projects of Posco and ArcelorMittal find no place in the recent verification process that started on April 11.
 
When asked, IPICOL chairman G. Mathi Vathanan had said, “All the companies who applied for MoU renewal were asked to reply about the physical and financial progress of their projects in a specific format. We are verifying the projects of only those companies who have responded.”
 
On the other hand, the state Steel and Mines department is also in darkness about the development of the company’s 12-million tonne proposed steel plant in Keonjhar district. 
 
“We are yet to receive any information from the company’s side regarding the project,” Steel and Mines Minister Rajanikant Singh said. 
 
More so, the steel behemoth is learnt to have shut down its 6915 sqft state office at Fortune Towers in Bhubaneswar. According to highly placed sources, the company’s tenancy agreement lapsed last month and it has not yet asked for any renewal. 
 
“Reliance Telecom is most likely to sign an agreement soon to use the space,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
 
According to sources, no progress has been made by the company at the site since it signed an MoU in 2006 with the Odisha Government to set up the plant at Patna in Keonjhar district, entailing an investment of about Rs 40,000 crore. The MoU was due renewal in 2011.
 
After seven years of the MoU, land acquisition for the green field project, which requires 8400 acres of land is yet to take off.