Mittal regrets slow progress on India projects

Mittal, who heads the world's largest steel maker ArcelorMittal, said it was difficult to predict when any of the projects would take off and also expressed apprehensions on clearance to South Korean steel major saying the company was watching closely whether POSCO "clearance is a clearance".

"We are as anxious as anyone else that we should make progress in our Indian projects. We have not reached to the stage like Posco where they have got some environment clearance. They have got it with lot of conditions and we are still to see that the clearance is a clearance or still lot of steps need to take it forward," he said soon after announcing fourth quarter results.

On January 31, setting 60 additional conditions, the Environment Ministry granted clearance for South Korean major Posco's USD 12 billion steel mill and captive port project in Orissa after putting it on hold for several years.

ArcelorMittal had announced plans to set up 12 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) plants each in Jharkhand in 2005 and in Orissa a year later. In June 2010, it inked a pact with Karnataka government for a 6 MTPA plant at an investment of Rs 30,000 crore.

However, none of the projects could take off due to regulatory and other hurdles like problems in land acqusition, raw material security etc. It had to shift the site of the proposed project to Bokaro in Jharkhand from Khunti-Gumla, faced with land acquisition problems.

"Progress is slow ... Lot of efforts are being made by our office in India. We are continuously making small steps forward. We cannot predict when can we start production... we cannot predict when we will have the first steel plant commissioned," Mittal said addressing a press conference at Luxembourg.

Last year he had said that the company expects to start work on one of its India projects in early 2011.

Earlier last year he had made stinging remarks that India was not prepared for mega investments.

"We blame the whole country for this because we did not experience this kind of growth, we did not experience this kind of interest in investments in India," Mittal had said, adding that neither the Centre nor the states were prepared for this kind of investment in the steel industry.

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