Our Bureau

Bangalore, Jan. 4

GLOBAL steel price, which is hovering between $350 (Rs 15,750) and $400 (Rs 18,000) a tonne, is expected to remain firm for this year.

"It (current price) is a safe bet for the year," the Tata Sons Director, Dr J. J. Irani, told newspersons on Wednesday.

He said steel prices, which follow a five-year cycle, are not expected to peak for another four years as they had touched a high in early 2005.

Land incident:

Dr Irani said the Tatas had no role in the Kalinga Nagar incident in which some tribals were killed after a clash broke out between them and the police over the construction of a boundary wall for a mega steel plant proposed to be set up by the company.

He said the Orissa Government is yet to hand over the land for setting up the project. "We are not involved in any construction in the disputed site as the Government is yet to hand it over to us," he said.

Tata Steel plans to set up a 10-million-tonne steel plant at Kalinga Nagar at a cost of Rs 20,000-30,000 crore in four phases.

On the issue of the Gopalpura steel plant, Dr Irani said the company had spent over Rs 140 crore in rehabilitating the displaced people.

Rs 1-lakh car:

He said Tata Motors plans to roll out the Rs 1-lakh car during 2007-08. He said while the components will be made at specific centres, the car would be assembled at various locations across the country.

Telecom investments:

On the issue of investments in Tata Teleservices, Dr Irani said the company plans to invest another Rs 15,000 crore in the next three to four years.

"In another four-five years, there will be a shakeout (in the telecom industry) and we will survive the shakeout," he said.

Dr Irani said the group is keenly studying the biotech sector and it might enter the sector at a later stage.

DTH:

Mr Irani said the group expects to start DTH service in April. Tata Sons has a 80-per cent stake in the DTH venture while the other partner, Star TV, holds the rest.

He said the Tatas' budget hotel venture, IndiOne plans to open 30-40 units in two-three years with at least 10 planned for the current year.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 5, 2006)
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