State govt optimistic about ArcelorMittal plant

Bhubaneswar: Admitting local opposition to land acquistion for mega projects in the state, state government on Monday said it was optimistic about establishment of ArcelorMittal`s proposed 12 mtpa steel plant in Keonjhar district through a peaceful manner.

"Odisha government has been supporting industries to set up units. Though there is opposition to land acquisition by local people, we have been undertaking industrialisation in peaceful manner. ArcelorMittal has given commitment to set up its plant in the state," state Steel and Mines Minister Raghunath Mohanty told reporters.

Reacting to the statement of ArcelorMittal chief Lakshmi Mittal in London, he further said "ArcelorMittal had so far invested over Rs 70 crore in its Odisha project and keen to set up its proposed 12mtpa steel plant in Keonjhar district.

Stating that opposition to land acquisition had been a phenomena across the globe, Mohanty said Gram Sabha meetings for ArcelorMittal`s project had been completed at seven of the 15 villages under Patana Tehsil area of Keonjhar. The company had already applied for extension of its MoU with the state government which lapsed last year, Mohanty said.

ArcelorMittal, which signed an MoU with the state government on December 21, 2006 for five years, had never said it would drop its proposal, Mohanty said adding "the company`s India Chief S Mishra had already given a written assurance to the state government reiterating ArcelorMittal`s commitment to set up a steel plant."

Though company proposed to invest Rs 40,000 crore in its proposed mega steel plant in 8,000 acres land in Keonjhar, it has been unable to acquire an inch of land.

"Citing opposition to land acquisition as the cause of delay, ArcelorMittal did not submit its detailed Project report (DPR) even as its MoU period lapsed last year," said a senior official in the steel and mines department.

ArcelorMittal chief Lakshmi Mittal in London had earlier said "India remains a priority but not for investment. I`m not locating capital to India or China as I don`t see things progressing there. We can`t remain stuck, so we move on. Now our priority is to reduce debt, we sell non-core assets. But we continue to invest in mining and become self-dependent."