Chhattisgarh, Balco sign MoU for Rs. 6,000 cr. expansion

NEW DELHI MAY 29. The Chhattisgarh Government which had strongly opposed privatisation of Balco is now entering into a memorandum of understanding with the company for a fresh investment of Rs. 6,000 crores in the State. The Chhattisgarh State Industrial Development Corporation (CSIDC) has entered into the MoU for a four-fold expansion of Balco's operations.

The CSIDC has assured all support to Balco for its plans to raise the capacity of its aluminium smelter complex at Korba from one lakh to four lakh tonnes annually. There would be associated expansions in the bauxite and alumina mining facilities in the State as well as installation of a 600 MW captive power plant bringing Balco on a par with international players.

The MoU was signed by Balco Managing Director, C. V. Krishnan, and CSIDC Managing Director, P. Raghavan. The State Chief Minister, Ajit Jogi, who was present on the occasion said "We are a big State with a small government that is committed to provide good governance and good infrastructure". This is a complete turnaround for Mr. Jogi who had initially opposed the takeover of Balco's management by Sterlite Industries and supported the trade unions in their agitation against the disinvestment of government shareholding.

Mr. Jogi said the State would extend all possible support to private investors who wished to join hands with the government for the State's overall development and growth. He said it was a power-surplus State and would emerge as the power hub of the country.

The large investment in Chhattisgarh comes just after the enactment of Chhattisgarh Investment Promotion Act, 2002, which has set up the State Investment Promotion Board , a statutory single point of investor contact. As a result of these initiatives, the State has already tied up over 5000 MW of fresh thermal power generation capacity over the last 12 months.

Under the MoU, CSIDC will provide all necessary assistance in procuring land for the proposed projects in Korba including additional land for the coal handling and ash-mud disposal facilities for the power plant. It will also facilitate clearances pertaining to environment and power. It will also help quick recommendations of the State Government to be forwarded to the Central Government for the grant of mining leases that may be required at any time in future for fulfilling the long term requirement of raw materials for the projects. Specific bauxite mines have been identified for this purpose at Mainpat and Kawardha in the State.

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