Centre asks J'khand govt to allot 1 bln tonne iron ore to SAIL

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Kolkata, Sep 19 (UNI) The Centre has asked the Jharkhand Government to allot one billion tonne iron ore reserve from the Chiria mines to the public sector Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) to meet its expansion plan.

Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said here today that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had already sent a communique to the Jharkhand Government in this regard.

''The PMO has asked the Jharkhand Government to immediately allot to SAIL a one-billion tonne block from its three billion-tonne iron ore reserve in the Chiria mines. This will enable SAIL to set up a 15-million tonne steel plant in the area and meet its expansion demand,'' he told reporters while visiting the Metal Scrap Trading Corporation (MSTC) here.

At present SAIL and the Jharkhand Government are locked in a legal battle over renewal of mining lease for three out of ten blocks in the Chiria mines and the situation threatens to derail the public sector company's mega expansion plan.

The country's largest steel company has earmarked Rs 2,500 crore to raise its iron ore capacity to 29.5 million tonnes by 2011-12 from 17 million tonnes at present.

As part of its corporate plan for 2011-12, SAIL has decided to invest Rs 1,800 crore in Chiria to raise its total output to seven million tonnes.

In reply to a question on the proposed merger of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) with SAIL, Mr Paswan reiterated that at present there was no such possibility because of local opposition.

The proposal is not under active consideration. ''At present we are not thinking of it because the political parties and the Andhra Pradesh Government have raised certain objections on local issues,'' he said.

The Minister, however, said the proposed merger of Neelachal Ispat, Maharashtra Electro Limited and Bharat Refractories with SAIL was in an advanced stage.

Commenting on the possibility of setting up the proposed chemical hub at Nayachar near Haldia in West Bengal, Mr Paswan said it was up to the state Government to ensure whether the site fulfilled the criterion set by the Centre.

He said the proposed site, an island on the river Haldi, could be linked with Haldia by a bridge.

During his visit to MSTC office, Mr Paswan okayed the long opening demand for revision of the employees' pay scale at par with that of SAIL.

He said the revised pay scale for MSTC employees would be effective shortly.

UNI

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