SAIL’s Himachal Pradesh plant in fresh trouble

December 8th, 2008 - 10:31 am ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Dec 8 (IANS) Uncertainty continues to dog state-owned Steel Authority of India Ltd’s steel plant project in Himachal Pradesh - SAIL’s first in northern India - with the state turning down the company’s proposal to shift the location of the plant.The proposed plant was initially to be set up in Kangra district. Later, SAIL decided to establish the plant at Nahan in Sirmaur district.

“We (the industry department) have officially conveyed to SAIL authorities our inability to provide land at the new site,” a state government official told IANS, requesting anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media.

“As Sirmaur district is facing acute power shortage, we have advised the central public undertaking not to change the location of the plant to Sirmaur at this point,” he said.

Using thermo-mechanical treatment technology, the proposed plant with an outlay of over Rs.1 billion is scheduled to produce 120,000 tonnes of steel rods, wire drawings and corrugated sheets annually.

However, former legislator Sadanand Chauhan is not convinced about the reason given by the government. Chauhan is national general secretary of Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party.

“It’s surprising that four months ago the government gave permission for setting up mega private steel units in Sirmaur district that together required 88 MW of power, now it (the government) is saying that we are not in a position to provide 4.6 MW to SAIL,” Chauhan told IANS.

Chauhan said SAIL had already identified land in Sirmaur district, but the project could not be set up until power is provided by the state.

Congress legislators Harsh Wardhan and Prem Singh, who belong to Sirmaur district, said the project was sanctioned by Union Minister for Steel Ram Vilas Paswan for Sirmaur as it is a backward district of Himachal.

“We will launch an agitation if the plant is set up in Kangra district,” they said.

SAIL general manager (corporate affairs) R.K. Singal has refused to comment on the issue.

Himachal has 38 industrial areas and 15 industrial estates.

In 2003, the state’s industrial sector received a major boost following a special industrial package announced by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance government at the centre.

Lured by the industrial package, more than 900 medium and large-scale units have set up base in Himachal Pradesh since then.

Of these, 623 units have been set up in the Baddi, Barotiwala and Nalagarh areas of Solan district. The state has attracted industrial investment of Rs.10 billion in the past six months.

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