Naidu launches work on steel plant, blasts Centre

Kadapa (Andhra Pradesh): Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday laid foundation stone for a steel plant in Kadapa district on Thursday even as the Centre blamed the state government for not providing required information on availability of the mines and iron ore.

With the Centre not giving its approval for the plant as committed at the time of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the state government decided to go ahead with the work on its own.

After laying the foundation stone for the plant at Maremma Kambaladinne village, Naidu said he wanted to demonstrate the state’s capabilities to the Centre.

He slammed the Centre for going back on all the commitments made in Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.

Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party (TDP) pulled out of NDA earlier this year over the latter’s failure to keep the promise of special category status to the state, said the state repeatedly took up the issue of steel plant with the Centre but there was no response.

Earlier, the state Cabinet approved the setting up of the steel plant named Rayalaseema Steels on 3,500 acre land. The plant requires an outlay of about Rs 18,000-20,000 crore and it will have capacity of three million tonnes per annum.

Hours after Naidu laid the foundation stone, the Centre blamed the state government for not providing required information on availability of the mines and iron ore for the proposed plant.

A detailed statement issued by the Steel Ministry recalled that the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) had found the project not feasible. However, the ministry appointed a high level Task Force, which has been holding meetings periodically.

“The State Government itself had engaged Geological Survey of India (GSI) for doing the exploration work of Obulapuram Mines (G2 Survey: for ascertaining iron ore resource availability) which is a pre-requisite for finalization of the feasibility report. However, in spite of several reminders and reviews of the Task Force, this information has not been given by the State Government so far,” it said.

“MECON, a premier steel consulting company, has been engaged by the Task Force to prepare the draft feasibility report and it has been struggling to get this information in order to finalize the draft report which is almost final except for the information on mines and the iron ore availability,” it added.

The ministry reiterated that once the state government furnishes the information, the feasibility report will be prepared by MECON within the shortest possible time and thereafter the modalities of investment will be finalized.