Sajjan Jindal’s JSW Group may have failed to execute its Rs 35,000-crore 10-mt integrated steel project at Salboni in West Midnapore district during the previous Left regime, but it is now pulling out all stops to put up a Rs 800-crore cement grinding unit at the same site.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday inaugurated the commencement ceremony for the construction of the 2.4-million tonne cement unit at Salboni.
On the occasion, the CM laid down a code of conduct for local villagers.
“Do not try to get things done forcefully. Do not put pressure on the investors. You must not interfere in their business. If you can keep them happy, you benefit. If you reciprocate, you would get more benefits in the form of employment and economic activities,” she said while addressing a crowd who had gathered from nearby villages.
“I know hundreds of you had handed over land in the hope that someone from the family would get a job… Today seems to be a good day. Mr Jindal has come with lakshmishree… his wife Sangeeta Jindal and son Parth Jindal. So, when someone brings his family to an investment meet, you can be rest assured that it is for your good,” she added.
On November 2, 2008, former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s cavalcade was attacked by suspected Maoists near Salboni, when he and then Union steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan were returning from the same site after laying the foundation for the JSW steel plant. Later, following problems like iron ore linkage, Jindals had shelved the plan to invest in the steel plant, for which land was made available to the group by the Bhattacharjee regime.
While the steel plant failed to take off, the 4,300 acres — 4,000 acres of barren government land and the rest bought from villagers — acquired for the project are still lying unutilised.
On Wednesday, Jindal said: “Mamata didi had asked me to come up with something else if we are not interested in the steel plant at the moment. We responded with a cement plant…”
He added the plant will be set up on 134 acres, which is “a small beginning, but a lot more could follow”.
“You should take it as just the beginning of a new initiative. We are starting with the cement plant and in future, would like to have a power plant and also look into the possibility of setting up a paint manufacturing unit,” said Jindal.
He went on to assure the crowd that production from the cement plant would begin in 12 months. Initially, at the construction stage, around 1,000 workers will get employment. Later, when production commences, around 250 people will be absorbed permanently. Another about 600 will be given jobs on contractual basis, said Jindal.
At the function, Jindal also introduced his son Parth Jindal to the guests. Parth Jindal, a Harvard University pass out, is likely to look after operations at the cement plant. “The capacity of the Salboni plant will be expanded from 2.4 mtpa to 4.8 mtpa. We will also take care of the people in the 23 villages around the plant site… We are very excited to embark on this new journey in West Bengal,” Parth said.