Bengaluru: Has the world’s biggest steel giant, ArcelorMittal decided to back out from its much hyped investment of $ 6.5 billion in a steel plant at Ballari? At a time when the state is getting ready to roll out the red carpet for investors by hosting the Invest Karnataka meet on February 3, ArcelorMittal group CEO Sanjay Sharma and his team met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday at his official residence seeking permission to change the use of 2,800 acres of land at Ballari to set up a 600 megawatt solar power plant. Since the 2,800 acres has already been allotted to Arcelor for a mega steel plant, the company has sought permission for land use change to a solar power plant. Sources said that though ArcelorMittal was able to secure land from the state government, it did not get an iron ore mine due to the Apex Court order which imposed guidelines on allotting iron ore mines in the country. In 2014, the Apex Court had directed Karnataka to auction its C category mines in the state.
During the meeting with the Chief Minister, company officials reportedly briefed him about the practical difficulties in starting steel companies and also explained to him the delay in auctioning iron ore blocks to start a captive mining project in Ballari. Instead of the $6.5 billion steel plant, the company has placed a proposal for a solar plant at the same place and also stated that proposed solar plant would be India’s largest.
Sources revealed that the stiff competition from other steel giants was the reason for ArcelorMittal to reconsider its decision to set up the steel plant. JSW Steel Limited, Uttam Galva and NMDC have plants in Ballari.
Sources revealed that the company did not want to lose the land in Karnataka. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah reportedly assured the delegation that after a discussion with top officials and the Industry minister, he would spell out his decision. Two months ago, the state government had announced that it will allot iron ore blocks through an e-auction but the process is yet to start....