Faced with a delay of nearly seven years since the signing of memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Odisha government, Aditya Birla Group owned UltraTech Cement, has sought an early decision on grant of mineral concession applications for limestone deposits. Grasim Cement Ltd (now UltraTech Cement) had entered into an MoU with the state in November 2006 for establishment of 0.90 million tonne integrated cement plant and 50 MW captive power plant at Sundergarh at a cost of Rs1,200 crore. Later, the project proponent intended to expand capacity to 3.5 million tonne per annum (mtpa) at an additional cost of Rs345 crore. The expansion plan was cleared by the High Level Clearance Authority of the state government in September 2011. The plant needs 160 million tonne of limestone to cater to its requirement for 30 years. “In order to meet requirement of raw material, so far only one PL (prospecting license) over 330 hectares area in Khatkurbahal was granted (Block-A & B) in which 3.7 million tonne of limestone had been established. Subsequently, we surrendered 250 hectares (ha) by putting ML (mining lease) application only over 40.59 ha mineralised area.
We are continuously approaching steel & mines department for grant of some other areas to start our project activity but nothing has materialised till date,” R M Gupta, senior executive president, UltraTech Cement said in a letter to Odisha chief secretary B K Patnaik. The MoU for the project was last revised in 2010 for three years. UltraTech’s PL application for Khatrbahal-Phalsakani-Chhatantoli-Gyanpali limestone mines spread over 294 ha was recommended by the state directorate of mines. Though the first hearing for the mines was completed on May 25 2009, decision was kept pending. Again, a fresh hearing for the same area was conducted by the steel & mines department. But, the decision on grant of PL is still pending. The cement firm has sought grant of PL at an early date to start project activity. UltraTech Cement has applied for ML for Jauramunda-Khatkurbahal after exploration of 330 ha granted through PL. Other limestone deposits where the company is an applicant include Gairbahal, Gairbahal & Nuagaon, Gairbahal-Udurma-Tarkera, Kandaimunda-Bhogra-Kiringsira and others and Jauramunda & Kulenbahal. The expansion programme of the cement plant promises direct and indirect employment for around 2,000 persons besides revenue generation for the government by way of royalty and taxes.