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Odisha creates separate steel directorate

Fri, 15th Jul 2016 (Source:The Times of India)

At a time when the steel projects are facing a horrible experience in terms of land acquisition and raw material crisis, the state government on Friday came up with a special steel directorate under the state steel and mines department.

The directorate would be a dedicated wing to resolve bottlenecks faced by the steel, sponge iron, pellet and iron ore benefaction plants which so far has invested around Rs 2 lakh crore and generate employment opportunities for around one lakh people, official sources said.

"The directorate would work to frame policy initiatives for utilization of the untapped potential in the state for upgradation of the steel sector. It can also advise the state government on policy matters related to steel," said steel and mines minister, Prafulla Mallik after inaugurating new office of the steel director.

Currently, it would operate from the directorate of geology and special secretary of the state steel and mines department has been appointed as the in-charge director. The state government has appointed Iswar Chandra Sahoo, a former top executive of the Rourkela Steel Plant as the advisor for the directorate.

Issues like intense local protest against land acquisition and use of water, complicated taxation system and lack of basic infrastructure has delayed in commissioning of a number of big-ticket steel projects in Odisha. Of total 49 MoUs signed by the state government, only 30 have started partial production. The major players like Jindal Steel and Power Limited, Essar Steel, Bhushan Steel, who have already commissioned their projects, are facing acute shortage of raw materials.

"Most of the projects are unable to operate to full capacity due to raw material constraints. Though, we have met the state government on a number of occasions to resolve the raw material crisis, it did not yield any result," said a senior executive of a steel plant.

Earlier, South Korean steel behemoth Posco, billed as the largest foreign direct investment project in the country, decided to 'freeze' its Rs 52,000 crore project in the state due to delay in getting land and raw material linkage. In July, 2013, world's largest steel maker ArcelorMittal had also backed out of its Odisha project due to delay in land acquisition. Industries bodies, however, welcomed the state government's decision for a dedicated directorate for steel sector.

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