JSW Steel on Thursday said it would start with a Rs 700-crore cement plant at Salboni in West Bengal. It had once planned a 10-million tonne steel plant there but the works couldn’t take off. “Unfortunately, because of coal and iron ore linkages, we couldn’t start the project. Now, the MMDR (Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation) law has come. So, hopefully, the issues would be resolved. We have decided to set up a 2.4-million tonne cement plant first,” JSW Steel Chairman and Managing Director Sajjan Jindal said on the sidelines of a Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry seminar.
The investment in the cement plant will be to the tune of Rs 700 crore and it would require 134 acres. The land will be reassigned to JSW Cement. Currently, 4,000 acres which was to house the steel project is under JSW Bengal Steel.
The foundation stone for the project would be laid by West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee January next year. Jindal met the Chief Minister at Nabanna, the state secretariat, today, to invite her for the event, which would be just months ahead of assembly elections in the state.A captive power plant having a capacity of 300MW would also come up at the site. The investment in the project would be Rs 2,000 crore.
"The captive power plant would be used for the cement project and the balance would be consumed by other group companies," Jindal said.
The original plan, the development agreement for which was signed with the Left Front government in 2007, was to have a 10 million tonne steel plant and 1600MW of power. The total investment in the project was to be around Rs 35,000 crore.
However, the project didn't take off, first due to problems with the land lease after the Mamata Banerjee government took charge, and then the mining mess. The final blow was the deallocation of coal blocks as per the Supreme Court order.
Also, sometime in early 2014, the West Bengal government cancelled the power purchase agreements with JSW. Finally, in December, JSW Steel officially, put the steel project on hold, which led to some discontent among the land losers at Salboni. Finally, Jindal gave back the private land of 294 acres that it had purchased in Salboni free of cost to the state government.
"We have said that we will make the land cultivable. My father was a farmer, so I connect with the farmers," he said. Production capacity By the end of December, JSW Steel said it would have production capacity of 18 million tonnes, from the current 14 million tonnes. “Two of the blast furnaces are being modernised, which will result in capacity addition of four million tonnes,” Jindal said. “It’s an ambitious target,” Jindal added.