Bengaluru: One of the key projects announced during the 2010 Global Investor's Meet was a steel plant at Ballari by ArcelorMittal. The man running it, Lakshmi Mittal, even came to the city to sign on the dotted line for about 2000 acres for the Rs 30000 crore project. But at the time global steel prices were at an all time high and the market was rapidly growing. The company was hopeful of procuring ore for the plant from important mining areas of Ballari and border areas of Andhra Pradesh.
However, what followed pushed the project back by three years. The Ballari mining scam following the then Lokayukta, Santosh Hegde's report, the arrests of mining bigwigs and the Supreme Court ban on mining led to a rethink within the company , which though allotted land, was reluctant to start work on the factory. When the Supreme Court began clearing mining licenses , hopes rose again, but then steel prices crashed globally. Although the company had taken possession of the land and fenced it in early 2014, it remained reluctant to commit further.
“When RV Deshpande took charge as industries minister, the company in response to queries from the department on starting the plant, said it was no longer interested in setting it up and wanted the legal status of land to be changed for other purposes,'' sources said, adding that a final call on whether to take back the land or allow the steel giant to proceed with other plans would be taken soon at the cabinet meeting.
R.V. Deshpande, the go-to man for an industrious state?
People in the know say after PSUs took over Bengaluru between the sixties and the eighties, it was RV Deshpande who brought in big names to Karnataka even as IT made big strides during the late nineties and early 2000. Mr Deshpande has had the longest stint as industries minister of the state, heading the key ministry during both the Janata Dal and Congress governments from 1994 to 2004.
This was an important phase in the history of Karnataka, especially Bengaluru which went on to get global recognition. He is credited with bringing Toyota and Volvo, besides hundreds of heavy industries, be it glass or steel manufacturing or pharma to the state. Now at the helm for a third time, there is a lot riding on him at Invest Karnataka. Industry sources say he has meticulously worked over the last one year to make the investors meet successful.
"He toured South Korea, Japan and Europe, and the culmination is there for everybody to see. Wednesday (February 3) will be a big day and we will see the kind of investments the state has not seen before,'' claimed industry department sources....