Badal Sanyal

Ranchi, Dec. 7

BUSINESS houses which have till now signed MoUs with the Jharkhand Government for setting up greenfield steel projects in the State, have been asked to submit detailed project reports (DPRs) between 18 and 24 months from the date of signing of the MoUs.

The State Government is keen on ensuring that the time schedule is maintained by prospective investors to facilitate early implementation of the projects.

Assuring all support to investors, the Chief Secretary to the Jharkhand Government, Mr P.P. Sharma, told Business Line that the fears about adequate availability of iron ore reserves within the State to meet the requirements of the projects were unfounded. He said the State had enough "committed proven" reserves to take care of requirements for at least 60 years for all the steel projects for which MoUs had been signed.

The estimate of proven reserves was based on the last detailed survey done by Geological Survey of India (GSI) and other Government agencies about 50 years ago. In recent times, the State Government had initiated moves to further prospect for iron ore reserves in order to raise the availability comfort level to 100 years.

Mr Sharma disclosed that the State Government had not allocated all the "uncommitted proven" reserves at its disposal even though the indicative ore reserves in the State could last for about 200 years on the basis of current requirement of ore estimated in the MoUs.

He said a part of the uncommitted proven reserve had been kept "free" with the objective of arranging assured ore supply to a few more investors in steel projects.

The Chief Secretary said that the investment scenario in the State had taken a positive turn with the Government's decision to renew the lease licence of Tata Steel. Incidentally, the renewal of licence had been lying in "limbo" for the last 10 to 11 years.

The Tatas have signed an MoU for setting up a 10-million-tonne (mt) per annum capacity greenfield steel project in the State. They will also be expanding annual capacity of the existing steel facility at Jamshedpur, from 5 mt to 10 mt. Accordingly, fresh iron ore supplies have been allocated.

The Tatas were followed by the London-based L.N. Mittal Group, which has signed an MoU for a 12 mt capacity steel project. Next came the Essar Group with a revised proposal for setting up a greenfield steel project. A fresh MoU in this regard will be signed soon.

Mr Sharma said that the State Government had already identified land for the proposed steel projects without sacrificing forests land, elephant corridor, flora and fauna.

However, he said, "We have to do plenty towards developing necessary infrastructure in commensurate with size of investments. Infrastructure will be developed through private and public partnership," he added.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 8, 2005)
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