New Odisha govt rekindles Rourkela steel plant's Rs 30K crore expansion plan

It was stalled due to an inadequate response from the previous government to remove encroachments from RSP land.
Rourkela Steel Plant
Rourkela Steel PlantFile Photo

ROURKELA: The formation of the BJP government in Odisha has rekindled hopes for the long-delayed Rs 30,000 crore expansion proposal of the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) under SAIL.

The expansion plan had been stalled due to the inadequate response of the previous government to removing encroachments from unused RSP land.

Sources within SAIL indicated that, in alignment with its vision to expand capacity, RSP, a profitable and flagship plant, had submitted a proposal in mid-2021 to increase its hot metal production capacity from 4.5 MTPA to 9.3 MTPA. SAIL, eager to proceed, required the necessary land to be made available before project implementation to avoid delays and capital lock-up.

The SAIL Board of Directors deferred RSP’s expansion in April 2023, approving similar plans for IISCO, Bokaro Steel Plant, and another plant, due to a lack of progress in clearing encroachments over the past two years.

In an attempt to move forward, RSP reduced its land requirement from 2,000 acres to approximately 1,200 acres. Despite multiple efforts by SAIL, the Union Steel Ministry, and RSP officials to engage with the government, the issue remained unresolved, especially as the 2024 general elections approached.

The land required for the expansion, located in areas such as Barkani, Bahagad, Biju Bandh, Rengali Basti, Kate Basti, and Girjatoli, has been occupied by around 300 scattered hutments. Acquired over six decades ago, this land is not currently in RSP’s physical possession.

RSP has even proposed a compensation package for relocating these families and aims to restart discussions with state authorities to facilitate the removal of encroachments and rehabilitation of affected individuals, said an RSP official on condition of anonymity.

The proposed first phase of the expansion, encompassing 1,200 acres, includes establishing an iron and steel mill zone with a new Raw Material Handling Plant, Coke Ovens, Sintering Plant, Blast Furnace, and Steel Melting Shop, along with subsidiary units. The subsequent phase envisions setting up a Cold Rolling Mill and additional facilities.

Himanshu Sekhar Bal, general secretary of the BMS-affiliated Rourkela Ispat Karkhana Karmachari Sangh (RIKKS), expressed concerns that without this expansion, RSP risks becoming obsolete compared to newer, technologically advanced steel plants. “Since the last modernisation and expansion project worth over Rs 12,000 crore 15 years ago, no significant investments have been made in Rourkela. The region’s stakeholders are hopeful that the new BJP government will promptly address the land issues, enabling the much-needed expansion,” he said.

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