Steel minister Beni Prasad Verma on Tuesday went on an offensive against industrialist Lakshmi Mittal, alleging that the London-based industrialist and chairman of ArcelorMittal never sets up a new plant and buys sick units.
Verma was responding to questions over whether the Centre is delaying ArcelorMittal's investments in India.
"He has not set up any new plant across the world, rather buys sick plants," Verma said.
Mittal has recently been expressing frustration with the lack of progress in his company's India plans.
ArcelorMittal is looking to invest US$ 30 billion (Rs. 163,000 crore) in India towards a 12 million tonne per annum (MTPA) steel plant each in Jharkhand and Odisha, and a smaller 6 mtpa plant in Karnataka. Six years after signing the first MoU, he is still waiting.
"Industrialisation is an important part of every major economy's development. By risking progress, India is potentially condemning millions to remain in poverty longer than previously anticipated," he had said in New York on June 19.
"We continue to experience difficulties in India," he said.
Verma countered by pointing out that "land acquisition comes under the purview of state governments…(still) whatever help they want from the steel ministry we are willing to provide."
"He should stop maligning India and the Indian government," Verma had said a couple of days back.
"Why is he not beginning work on his projects."
ArcelorMittal is the world's largest steel-maker.
India's largest steel producer Sail has just one-seventh of ArcelorMittal's annual production.