In an elaborate wish list submitted to the Chief Minister’s office, Arcelor Mittal and Nippon Steel (India) Ltd has sought a slew of concessions from the Gujarat government as “expected assistance” for expansion of its project in Hazira, Surat. These include land at 2006 rates, land allotment within six months, condonation for violation of allotment conditions in the past, relaxation of compensatory requirements in lieu of using forest land, single-window clearances, special subsidies etc.
AMNS(I) is a 60:40 joint venture of ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel Corporation, the world’s largest and third-largest steel producers, respectively. In December 2019, the JV took over Essar Steel under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) by paying its creditors Rs 42,000 crore and injecting Rs 8,000 crore in the bankrupt company.
The Indian Express has reviewed the 8-page wish list handed over by AMNS(I) CEO Dilip Oommen at a meeting held on November 9 at the Chief Minister’s office. In a hand-written note, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel referred the list to MK Das, Additional Chief Secretary (Industry and Mines) in the CMO, for “discussion”.
Oommen did not comment on the specifics of the wish list. “We are getting full support and cooperation from the government of Gujarat. So far, land acquisition process is also on the right track. We do not see any roadblock or any major issue at the moment. We are coordinating with the government agencies at the state and the Centre. They are fully aware of our plan for development,” he told the newspaper in an emailed statement.
Das is yet to respond to multiple phone calls, messages and emails. His office said that the queries emailed by The Indian Express were forwarded to the relevant officer.
The list of “expected cooperation” from the state government to “resolve certain difficult issues” facing the planned investment of Rs 35,000 crore by AMNS(I) include:
– Fix the price of 72.62 hectares land pending with the Collector at the rates of 2006 when the application was moved by Essar Steel. Allocate another 35 hectares at 2008 rates.
– Land allotment orders to be made available within six months of application. The forest department needs to allocate land identified for the expansion project located in the vicinity of the plant on a priority basis.
– Waiver of the existing condition of transferring double the area under the Forest Act and allow the same area of land to be transferred for compensatory afforestation in lieu of diverted forest land.
– Appointment of a single nodal officer to ensure a single point of contact and a single-window system for timely approvals from the departments of industry, finance, revenue forest & environment, energy & petroleum, ports & transport, water supply etc.
– A general notification expected from the CMO for all departments to expedite such approvals. The Chief Minister is expected to expedite approvals at various stages for proposals of AMNS(I) for allotment of government land and transfer of forest department lands at the earliest.
– Given the quantum of the investment, the state is expected to provide subsidies and special concessions under the industrial policy and any other special concessions available.
The company also sought condonation of non-compliance or violation by Essar Steel of any prescribed conditions in land allotment orders with relief to AMNS(I) as a special case for any breach of such conditions under the Forest Act, 1980. AMNS(I) has indemnity from the past criminal liabilities of Essar Steel.
In December 2019, the Centre amended the IBC to ring-fence corporate debtors from criminal proceedings against any offence committed prior to the commencement of the insolvency resolution process.
In the submission, AMNS(I) said its Hazira operations were “steadily picking up speed” following a lull during April-May 2020. The proposed Rs 35,000-crore investment would enhance the current production capacity of 8.6 MMTPA to 18 MMTPA in two phases, create jobs and “also lead to the development of the Hazira area”, it claimed.
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