Global recession: Bengal’s steel industry releases land parcel

KOLKATA/PURULIA: Bengal stands to regain around 1,800 acres of land, but this may well deal the death blow to the state’s steel dreams.

West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) is in the process of getting back a major chunk of ready land at Raghunathpur Industrial Estate from two steel companies, Jai Balaji Industries and Adhunik Group.The total land is around 1,800 acres -Jai Balaji has 1,100 acres and Adhunik the rest.

Once WBIDC gets possession of this parcel, ready land available with the nodal industry body will go up to 7,000 acres. At the moment, Bengal has around 5,000 acres spread over 20 industrial parks.

This will be the biggest voluntary land return in the history of Bengal after Shyam Steel in 2012. Shyam Steel had voluntarily returned 650 acres in Raghunathpur after it decided to stall the project due to global recession.

Sources in the state government said all formalities for Adhunik Group have been completed. A state government official said: “The process is on to take back Jai Balaji’s land. We have paid back the money to Adhunik and will refund money Amit Singh Deo to Jai Balaji, but we will not pay any interest.”

Asked about the development, Natundi Krishi Anchal Committee president Saktipado Majhi said there should be heavy industries in that land. “We want bigger industries there. Small industries will not do,” he said. The committee was formed by the land-losers of Jai Balaji project a year ago.

An official of Adhunik Group said there was no point to hold on to the land because the situation in steel has yet to improve. “There is no point to go for a new project now,” the official added. Incidentally, both the projects of Jai Balaji and Adhunik were signed in 2007 during boom in the steel sector.

Adhunik had proposed to invest over Rs 10,000 crore for a 1.1 million tonne steel plant and a 1,100 MW power plant. Jai Balaji had planned to set up a 5 million tonne steel plant along with a 3 million tonne cement grinding unit for Rs 16,000 crore. It used to have a debt-equity ratio of 3:1 for the project. Jai Balaji even had plans to set up a technical institute in Purulia. The Left government had even allotted two coal mines, Jagannathpur A and B, to Jai Balaji in 2008 for the steel and power projects. Both projects got derailed following the recession in 2009, and were eventually cancelled by an SC order in 2014.

Credits ET Realty

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