JSW's project delayed but Jindal says committed to Bengal

Written by fe Bureaus | Kolkata | Updated: Jul 28 2010, 06:02am hrs
Sajjan Jindal-controlled JSW Steel has once again pushed back the deadline to start work of its proposed 10 million tonne Salboni steel plant, though the company didn't want to cite any serious reason for the delay.

Sajjan Jindal, JSW Steel's vice chairman and managing director, said the company intended to do the "ground breaking" ( start construction) by the end of the current fiscal and expected to commission the first phase of the project within three years from ground breaking.

Earlier, Biswadeep Gupta, the chief executive officer and joint managing director of JSW Bengal Steel Ltd, the special purpose vehicle floated with the West Bengal government to implement the project, said that the construction work would start from October. Prior to this, Jindal after meeting the Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee early this year said the project work would start from June-July.

JSW Bengal Steel missed a number of deadlines after it had signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the government of West Bengal in January 2007 but it only cited the global meltdown as the cause of delay, though constantly maintaining that funding was not a problem and that there was no problem in tying up with the banks.

JSW Bengal announced that it would invest Rs 10,000 crore for the first phase of implementation, which would be a 3 mt steel plant and 300mw power project.

In fact, Salboni, where the Jindals are setting up their plant is within the Maoist dominated Junglemahal and more than half of their acquired 4,500 acres fall within the Maoist dominated moujas (villages). However, Jindal on Tuesday once again denied that Maoist activities were hindering the project, although he demanded ample security arrangement from the Bengal chief minister when he met him early this year.

" I don't think Maoist activities are delaying our project," Jindal said on Tuesday. " We have deferred because of the global meltdown and now we are getting ready for the ground breaking," he added. " The state government, he said was "very very keen to have the project" and it was providing all support to help the project come up, Jindal said.

He said currently the steel plant was being designed and once the designing was complete and cost estimates made, JSW would go for a financial closure.

On roping in JFE Steel Corporation of Japan as a technology partner for the Salboni steel project, Jindal said that JSW has not yet opened dialogues with JFE in such terms, although the initial idea to tie up with JFE was to bring in technology for the Salboni steel plant project.

" We first started discussions with JFE on the West Bengal project and there was no talks regarding holding equity in the mother company. But as we explored we found that we could cooperate in various ways and the decision to go for an equity sharing with JFE was made," Jindal said.