Santosh Patnaik

VISAKHAPATNAM: With the removal of almost all the bottlenecks for land acquisition for the two private alumina projects, the National Aluminium Company (Nalco) is quite optimistic about signing an agreement with the State government for setting up an alumina refinery near Visakhapatnam. The Jindal South West Aluminium Limited has already taken possession of the land for the refinery and performed the bhoomi puja to launch civil works. The boundary wall construction is already over after obtaining clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

However, there is some ambiguity with regard to the project proposed by Ras Al-Khaimah (RAK), a constituent of United Arab Emirates. While the State government signed the MoU with a delegation from RAK Investment Authority last year, the AP Industrial Infrastructure Corporation has only sought the land for an ‘Industrial Park.’

Sources said acquisition of 2,000 acres in Makavarapalem mandal is already over with the payment of Rs.5 lakhs per acre as compensation to the affected families. The draft notification for Kothapalem village, which will face total eviction, is likely to be issued soon.

Strategic importance

Nalco proposal was revived after the State government shot down its request to allow bauxite mining by it directly or as a joint venture with the APMDC two years ago. For Nalco, any project in Visakhapatnam will be of strategic importance as it has a refinery and mining leases in Koraput district of Orissa, bordering Andhra Pradesh. The Visakhapatnam Port as well as the private port under construction at Gangavaram will be an advantage for freight movement.

A senior official said the recent talks were positive and an agreement is likely to materialise with the APMDC shortly. Nalco had proposed an investment of Rs.5,000 crores three years ago. Location of a smelter subject to availability of coal or naphtha in Andhra Pradesh is also not ruled out. For its alumina plant at Damonjodi, Nalco located its smelter at Angul in North Orissa, about 450 km away from the refinery.

The bauxite reserves of Andhra Pradesh, mostly in Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram, is put at 657 million tonnes, of which 90 per cent is recoverable.