RAIPUR: Arcelor Mittal and Nippon Steel have together acquired Essar Steel India Limited’s Chhattisgarh pipeline — the world’s second-longest (267 km) pipeline to transport high-quality iron ore to Vishakhapatnam through one of the worst Maoist-affected districts of Dantewada. However, the security of the pipeline against Maoist sabotage remains a key concern.
Bailadila in Dantewada has some of the finest iron ore reserves in the world which are treated and carried through the slurry pipeline via Odisha to reach the pellet plant at Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
ESIL claimed cooperation from Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh for its pipeline protection and repair work were not encouraging in the face of recurrent Maoist attacks, a point, Brigadier (retired) BK Ponwar, a jungle warfare expert, attested to.
“Security has always been a major issue for Essar all these years in Dantewada. The ESIL’s operations were stalled several times by Maoists,” a former senior officer of the company said. ESIL even had to contend with allegations regarding its role in giving cash to Maoists to buy peace.
It is not clear what security options would be adopted by ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel against Maoists yet.