Two weeks after announcing the decision to put on hold the Rs. 35,000- crore steel plant project at Salboni in West Midnapore, JSW Steel has conveyed to the West Bengal government that they are willing to give back 294 acres of land there which they directly purchased from the landowners there.
The chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, said at the state secretariat of Nabanna on Monday that JSW management has already conveyed this to the state commerce and industries minister, Amit Mitra, recently.
“This is an extremely good gesture. Since the project for which the land was purchased is not coming up now, they have rightly decided to give back the land to the farmers which they purchased from the land onwers. The company will give back the land to the state government. We will form a committee headed by district magistrate that will arrange for the return of land to the landowners,” the chief minister said.
According to her, JSW Steel is returning the land which is over 250 acres totally free of cost. The total land taken for the projects was around 4,300 acres out of which the company purchased 294 acres directly from the landowners. “This is an extremely welcome gesture and we have been talking of the same thing in case of Singur,” she said.
She added that JSW will continue to hold the remaining majority land which they purchased from the government-vested land. “We will see what the company does with that land in future,” the chief minister said. On December 1, 2014, JSW chairman and managing director Sajjan Jindal said the company is putting on hold the Salboni project because of the uncertainlty over availability of raw materials like iron ore and coal. Jindal claimed that JSW Bengal has already invested around Rs. 700 crore behind the Salboni project. Recently under the lreadership of Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha member and state president of Trinamool Congress Subrata Bakshi, local villagers started an agitation at Salboni demanding that if the company does not set up the project there they should return the land to the orgional landowners.
The memorandum of understanding for the project was signed in 2007 during the earlier Left Front government in West Bengal.