The global financial downturn may delay steel behemoth ArcelorMittal's India plans of setting up two greenfield steel projects with an investment of about Rs 80,000 crore, a top company official has said.
"If demand for steel continues to be down for two years, the pace of our proposed projects is likely to slow," ArcelorMittal India CEO Vijay Bhatnagar told PTI on the sidelines of an international metal conference here.
The L N Mittal-led company plans to set up integrated steel plants of a 12 million tonne capacity each in Jharkhand and Orissa, for which it had inked memoranda of understanding with the respective state governments about three years ago.
The company had envisaged commencing the first phase of production from its Jharkhand plant by 2012, which would now be delayed in view of slackening demand for steel as also the liquidity crunch.
"If it is a downturn of huge proportions, then we don't know where are we heading towards. One has to be cautious and prudent as there is a huge liquidity crunch," Bhatnagar said.
Asked which of the two projects is expected to come up first, the ArcelorMittal top brass said the company is facing a peculiar situation in both the states.
"In Jharkhand we have got iron ore mines, but don't yet have land whereas in Orissa we are better placed in terms of land, but are yet to get mines," he said.
In both Orissa and Jharkhand, ArcelorMittal is facing stiff resistance from locals, who are not ready to part away with their land for the proposed projects.
Though admitting to protests, Bhatnagar exuded confidence in resolving the matter through dialogue.
"We want to take everybody along in our projects and so are engaging all the stakeholders in the dialogue," he said.