Mittal seeks to allay villagers’ fears

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Reaching out: Chief Executive Officer of Greenfield Projects, ArcelorMittal Sanak Mishra speaking at the workshop at Keonjhar district on Monday.
Reaching out: Chief Executive Officer of Greenfield Projects, ArcelorMittal Sanak Mishra speaking at the workshop at Keonjhar district on Monday.

Satyasundar Barik

Keonjhar: Taking a lesson from protests against various industrial projects in the State, the world’s largest steel maker ArcelorMittal on Monday sent its two chief executive officers of India operation to the tribal- dominated Keonjhar district to initiate a dialogue with local people for winning their confidence.

ArcelorMittal proposed to set up a 12 million tonne per annum capacity steel plant in Patna tehsil of Keonjhar district at an estimated investment of Rs. 40,000 crore.

Company’s CEO, India Vijay Bhatnagar and CEO, Greenfield Projects Sanak Mishra addressed a workshop on ‘roadmap of corporate social responsibility activities’ attended by a cross-section of people from the district, including a few villagers who face displacement.

Demo staged

However, the first interaction of two senior officials of the company did not pass without a tinge of controversy. Some 700 residents from 17 villages that will be affected continued to stage a demonstration under the banner of Mittal Pratirodh Manch (MPM) in front of the district Magistrate’s office where workshop was going on.

“The company will take away our agriculture land covered with irrigation network. Some 17,000 to 20,000 people will be displaced. We will never allow the company to occupy our land,” MPM President Muralidhar Sardar said. Earlier addressing the workshop, Mr. Mishra said, “We are approaching the project with a participatory approach. The mega project would help improve quality of life of people of Keonjhar and add value to the rich iron ore resources available in the district.”

In its corporate social responsibility, the company would give priority to education, employment and overall health care needs of people of the region, he said.

Mr. Bhatnagar said ArcelorMittal had the expertise both in running steel mills as well as carrying mining operation, in which the company was the fourth largest group in the world. The company would set up a design and engineering centre at Kolkata to feed quality manpower to the steel industry, he said.

The company has submitted a land requirement of 7,750 acres to the district administration. “We will require 6,000 acre of land for the steel mill, 1,000 acres for captive power plant and 750 acre for township. Of these we will convert 2,000 acres into a green belt,” Mr. Mishra said.

ArcelorMittal will produce steel products such as wire rod, rebar, merchant bars, plat, hot-rolled coil and galvanized coil, which would be used in housing, infrastructure development and automobile industries.

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