The West Bengal government has decided to vest the 270 acres, directly purchased by Sajjan Jindal-promoted JSW Bengal Steel at Salboni in West Medinipur, with it.
“After vesting the land, it will be given to the company on lease,” officials close to the development said after a meeting between JSW Steel officials and the state land reforms commissioner on Wednesday.
JSW Steel had acquired 294 acres “ryotwari” land directly, without the approval from the land reforms department. The Land Reforms Act places a ceiling of 24 acres on land acquisition while Section 14Y of the Act exempts the ceiling, primarily, in four cases — mill, factory, workshops and tea gardens.
The state government will vest 270 acres after accounting for 24 acres, which is permissible, after JSW Bengal Steel makes an application for it. The previous government, too, had also decided to vest the land and then lease in November 2010, but the decision was scrapped by the new government. The Mamata Banerjee-led government had explicitly expressed its discontent over the close to three-year delay in the project.
The vesting process is expected to be completed in a month, after which the company will achieve financial closure for the first phase of its 10-million tonne steel project at Salboni. The investment in the first phase, comprising three million tonnes of steel-making capacity and 300Mw of power, would cost Rs 20,000 crore.
The remaining land has to be acquired by the company. The development agreement between the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) and JSW Steel had a clause wherein the government agency had promised to acquire land for road access and also if the company faced problems in acquisition. That clause stands annulled since the new government has decided not to acquire land for industrial projects.
The company, which entered into a development agreement in 2007, has not been able to acquire 14 acres of the 450 acres of private land as it was disputed and some land owners did not have documents.
“The 14 acres is scattered all over the project site spread over 4,334 acres,” an official said. The total land the company will have to acquire is 49 acres, apart from the 14 acres. “We will have to purchase land for road access and railway linkages,” the official said. The quantum of land to be purchased may be small, but it is key to the project.
For the purchase of the remaining land, the company will have to seek approval from the state in advance. If the lease is done in a month, then the company will go ahead with groundbreaking in October.