Talking to newsmen here last night, Assocham Senior Vice President Sajjan Jindal, also the Vice Chairman of Jindal Steels, voiced grave concern over the development but was confident that the issue would be sorted out amicably to enable the project to go ahead in the interest of West Bengal.
Amidst the furore on the Singur project, Jindal Steel Works would initiate work on its new greenfield project in West Bengal where it is establishing a Rs 4,000 crore integrated steel plant in a 4,500 acre land in Salboni in West Midnapore District. Mr Jindal said that foundation stone will be laid for the first phase of the project in November for a six million tonne ore benefication and pelletaisation plant.
JSW Steel had signed a development agreement with West Bengal Government in January last year for a ten million tonne steel plant.
A separate company has been floated for the Bengal project by JSW.
Mr Jindal expressed reservation over the present rules on the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act with regard to land acquisition, which is currently the full responsibility of the project initiator and said that there should be some government intervention in Resettlement and Rehabilitation programme. He said ASSOCHAM would soon approach the government with a proposal on the issue.
Mr Jindal said though the rules have been amended to ban takeover of agricultural land now, a number of farmers have lost their fertile land to SEZs with a compensation that would not provide them a life sustenance. On impact of reduction in global steel prices, Mr Jindal said that the steel units in India might not cut the prices as they voluntarily decided against increasing prices of the commodity when the steel prices went up internationally.
Referring to the Jindal Bengal project, he said a path breaking rehabilitation initiative involving about 741 families has raised the bar for various industrial projects throughout the country, while obtaining a positive response from all over. The rehabilitation package involved direct negotiation of basic compensation for the land, employment for one person per family after basic training and free JSW Bengal Steel Shares to be allotted equivalent to the land valuation, to be kept under the trusteeship of DM, locked-in-till commencement of commercial production.
The Company had already deposited over Rs 100 crore towards the land cost compensation to farmers with the State Bank of India, with the beneficiaries allowed to draw the interest from the Bank on a monthly basis, Mr Jindal said.
A member from each family will be provided technical training, the expenses of which will be provided by JSW entirely, after which jobs within the project would be provided, he said, adding that it would be a permanent employment.