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Lafarge in the race for Himachal cement plant

Baldev S Chauhan  |  New Delhi/ Shimla 

French cement giant Lafarge is in the running for setting up an Al Sindi cement plant at Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district. About half a dozen Indian firms are eyeing the project.
This is Lafarge's third attempt to set up cement plants in the hill state. It has lost out to domestic players twice in the last couple of years.
Sources say the French company is facing competition from Ambuja Cements, India Cements, Jaypee Industries, Sri Cements, and for the proposed Al Sindi cement at Mandi, some 100 km from here.
The state government had recently cancelled the awarding of the project to Grasim cement company "" the company has been undertaking the project since the mid 1990s ""- and invited fresh bids instead. Although the exact cost of the proposed Al Sindi project is not yet known, it is expected to easily cross Rs 750 crore.
Sources say Lafarge, along with Ambuja cements, are the two favourites for the plant.The final decision is likely to be taken soon. According to the sources, the state government is also likely to cancel the deal with Larson & Tubro for the Broh""Shind cement plant and invite fresh bids.
Environmentalists have been warning the state government not to set up more cement plants in the the fragile mountain terrain. However, the state government says it is taking necessary precautions.
Last month, the state government awarded the contract for setting up the Rs 750-crore Gumma cement plant in Shimla district.
Lafarge was among eight others bidding for the project and had lost out to for this project.

First Published: Wed, June 21 2006. 00:00 IST