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Steel companies make a beeline for Bengal

Ishita Ayan Dutt  |  Kolkata 

Rs 1,08,500 cr investment lined up in greenfield, brownfield projects.
With more than Rs 100,000 crore worth investments in the pipeline, West Bengal has emerged as a hot destination for the steel industry, leaving behind the mineral-rich state of Chhattisgarh. The investments announced for greenfield and brownfield projects in the state stand at Rs 108,500 crore.
According to a steel ministry document dated July 1, Orissa topped the chart with Rs 1,92,380 crore investments, followed by Jharkhand at 1,78,496 crore and Chhattisgarh at Rs 89,232 crore.
While Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh bagged the investments largely on the back of their iron ore deposits, West Bengal was helped by its ports.
PROPOSED INVESTMENT
Name Capacity
(mn tn)
Investment
(Rs cr)
JSW Bengal Steel 10 35,000
Videocon group 3 15,000
Jai Balaji 5 15,000
Abhijit Steel 2 10,800
IISCO Steel Plant
modernization
2 10,000
Bhushan Steel unit 2 8,800
Adhunik Steel 1.1 6,400
Durgapur Steel Plant Brownfield 7,000
Alloy Steel Plant Brownfield 500
However, investors in West Bengal pointed out that iron ore was only one of the many things needed for a steel plant.
Biswadip Gupta, joint managing director and chief executive officer, JSW Bengal Steel, said the key things needed for a steel plant were land, coal, iron ore and power. "West Bengal has everything except iron ore," he added.
"We will produce slabs in West Bengal and export it to our plants in the US for finishing. So port is very important for us," he said. Kolkata port is India's only riverine port with two dock systems, the Kolkata dock system and the Haldia dock complex.
JSW's 10 million-tonne-steel plant is the largest steel sector project in the state.
Even though it has no iron ore to offer, the government is wooing investors with coal. The state accounts for around 6 per cent of the total coal production in the country.
Rajive Agarwal, vice-president, operations, Bhushan Steel, said the state government had committed non-coking coal mines. "The manner in which the government has invited us encourages us to set up plants there. They also have a good incentive package," he added.
The state government has offered sales tax exemption to Bhushan Steel, which is investing Rs 8,800 crore to set up an integrated two-million-tonne steel plant with a captive power plant of 1,000 Mw and a 0.5-million-tonne cold rolled and galvanising plant for automobile grade steel.
Agarwal pointed out that with this flood of investments from the steel sector, it would be very difficult for any state government to commit any iron ore mine.

First Published: Wed, September 26 2007. 00:00 IST
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