The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked Indian railway to expedite the work of laying tracks in the Rowghat project that would facilitate evacuation of rich iron-ore from the pocket considered to be under the influence of Naxalites.
Union Home minister Rajnath Singh said Centre would provide all necessary assistance to start the work that would require a heavy deployment of security personnel following Naxalites open threat. The rebels had set equipment on fire when the authorities tried to start the work on Rowghat project.
"The Union Home Minister instructed the railway officials to immediately start the track laying work in the Rowghat project," the union minister said at a high level meeting on Naxal issue held in New Delhi on Monday. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu was also present in the meeting. In the project, rail lines would be developed in two phases; one from Rowghat to Dallirajhara and another from Rowghat to Jagdalpur.
The Rowghat region had been endowed with high grade of iron-ore while one of the deposits had been allotted to the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL). The Rowghat deposit-F, allotted to SAIL, had been spread over 2028.79 hectares in the Naxal-infested pocket straddling between Kanker and Narayanpur districts. It has an estimated iron-ore reserve of 511 million tonnes.
Since reserve in SAIL's Dalli Rajhara mines feeding Bhilai Steel Plant (SAIL) had been fast depleting, Rowghat project had been crucial for the company. The delay in the commissioning of Rowghat mine would affect the expansion plan of SAIL in general and BSP in particular. BSP had been the flagship entity and highest profit making unit of the SAIL. It was expanding its steel making capacity to 7.5 million tonnes per annum (MTpA) from current 4.6 MTpA. The company had proposed to set up a 14 MTpA mine in Rowghat.