The former employees of the Zinc Smelter, which belongs to the erstwhile Hindustan Zinc Limited, have come out against the plans of the Vedanta Group to convert the land in the city into real estate venture. They also accused the management of trying to grab a large parcel of land either in Kakinada or Krishnapatnam on the pretext of setting up a greenfield smelter.
Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu had exchanged MoUs with the Vedanta Group for launching three mega projects of its companies – Hindustan Zinc Limited, Sterlite Power and Sterlite Tech – with an investment of ₹21,500 crore.
“This is nothing but a real estate ploy. They removed the machinery of the Zinc Smelter here and flattened the quarters to first sell 350 acres. When we opposed it, they withdrew. Now, indirectly, they want to convert the land use from industrial to commercial to mint money,” Hindustan Zinc Parirakshana Samiti convener Pitta Narayana Murthy told The HIndu .
He said the land had been acquired from the farmers in 1972 for setting up an industry at the rate of ₹850 per acre. Now its value is estimated at over ₹20,000 crore. A former employee of HZL, Mr. Murthy said the smelter was closed down in 2013 under the pretext of environmental problems.
“Trouble started after Sterlite picked up majority stake in the State-owned HZL,” he pointed out. An agitation would be launched to bring pressure on the government to prevent the conversion.
“Besides the investment, the group also promised to employ more than 15,000 people,” a HZL spokesman said but declined to elaborate.
However, the AP Economic Development Board, which is coordinating the investments proposed at the CII Partnership Summit, said the project proponent was scouting for suitable land for a greenfield smelter.
The HZL sources said they would need 1,000 acres for the new smelter and the water treatment plant. It proposed to convert the 350 acres at Mindi in the city, where once the famous Zinc Smelter stood, into a multiplex, residential complexes, hotels, hospitals, tourist attractions and other amenities as part of its city centre development project.
The Sterlite Power proposed to invest ₹5,000 crore for transmission projects through tariff-based competitive bidding for all voltage levels across the State. It would bid, design, construct, own and operate the power transmission assets.
The Sterlite Tech, which also provided the optical fibre technology used in the Andhra Pradesh Fiber Grid, proposed to create a technology blueprint. In this endeavour, they would bring global best practices in terms of designing world-class ICT Infrastructure that is reliable, scalable, secure and futuristic in terms of applications. It would deploy its experts in creating such designs and technology blueprint for Amaravati and Tirupati smart cities.
Social activist and former IAS officer E.A.S. Sarma said the government should rethink over the Vedanta’s plans to use the land for real estate purpose and acquire land in Kakinada or Krishnapatnam for a greenfield zinc smelter.
CITU State president Ch. Narsinga Rao said if the HZL was so keen on investing in a new smelter, what prevented it to locate it at the Zinc Smelter land in the city.