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Buddha gets to smile

Buddha gets to smile

Arcelor-Mittal and POSCO may have chosen its neighbouring states (Orissa and Jharkhand, respectively), but West Bengal has managed to become the #3 state for steel investment in the country.

Arcelor-Mittal and POSCO may have chosen its neighbouring states (Orissa and Jharkhand, respectively), but West Bengal has managed to become the #3 state for steel investment in the country. Compared to Orissa and Jharkhand, which boast of proposed steel investment of Rs 1,00,000 crore each, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s West Bengal has managed Rs 70,000 crore. What has propelled the state into the big league?

Two new investment proposals, one from the Videocon Group for a Rs 15,000-crore steel plant, and the other from Jai Balaji Group, for a bigger Rs 16,000-crore facility.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee
 

The two deals have taken the number of mega steel plants in the state—existing and proposed—to five. The Jindal group had earlier announced a steel plant at Salboni. Durgapur Steel Plant and SAIL-ISP are the two state-owned mega-steel plants that are currently in operation.

While Videocon’s 3 million tonne per annum (TPA) steel plant and the 1,600 MW power project will come up at Barabani in Burdwan (near Asansol), the 5 million TPA integrated steel plant with a 1,215 MW captive power plant by Jai Balaji group will come up at Raghunathpur in Purulia.

Since neither of the places is known to have fertile crop land, the state government and the two companies are confident that land acquisitions for these two projects will not be a problem. With the deals now sealed, West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation has to acquire nearly 7,000 acres at the two locations within two months.

Videocon, according to its Chairman Venugopal Dhoot, will produce value-added cold rolled steel for automobile and engineering industry, while Jai Balaji will set up a 5 million TPA steel unit along with a 3 million TPA cement grinding plant and both the companies will train local people and eventually employ them.

Says Aditya Jajodia, Chairman and Managing Director of the Jai Balaji Group: “The steel and power project will be the single-largest investment in Purulia till date. It will be spread over 4,000 acres of land. This will include a township that will be spread over 500 acres. When complete, the project will provide direct and indirect employment to over 50,000 people.” It’s a marketing pitch that may work well with the locals.