Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reconsider the decision to privatise the Nagarnar steel plant in Bastar, saying the move has led to tribal discontent which Naxalites are likely to exploit.
In a letter to Modi, Baghel said that NMDC’s under-construction Nagarnar steel plant is likely to be commissioned in the near future at a cost of over Rs 20,000 crore. He said the plant will not only ensure utilisation of minerals in Bastar but provide thousands of people direct and indirect employment.
Reacting to media reports about the central government’s decision, the Chief Minister said it would be very unfortunate for Chhattisgarh if the proposed public sector steel plant in the tribal area is privatised, an official statement said on Thursday.
He said the news has agitated the tribal community and there is a feeling of dissatisfaction against the administration. Baghel wrote that the state government has been successful in curbing Naxalite activities but the possibility of the Maoists taking advantage of tribal discontent over the plant can’t be ruled out.
He said that about 610 hectares of private land has been acquired for the steel plant, which has been taken up for ‘public purpose’. About 211 hectares of government land in the plant area still belongs to the Chhattisgarh government. Of this, only 27 hectares has been given conditionally to NMDC for 30 years. The rest is owned by the Chhattisgarh government.
The Chief Minister said the first condition under which the state government transferred the land to the Industries Department is that the land will be used only for setting up a steel plant by NMDC. He said that PESA Act, 1996, is in force to protect the interests of tribals and their natural rights in Chhattisgarh.
The Chief Minister told the Prime Minister that the steel plant must continue as a public sector enterprise and the state government is committed to protect the interests of the tribals.