Back to chasing its steel dream, Odisha faces risk of another people’s movement

As the Naveen Patnaik government revives the second wave of steel industry in Odisha, observers keep their fingers crossed, with past experiences in mind, especially protests against land acquisition and poor rehabilitation and compensation.

Last December, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik was quite ebullient at the annual convention of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).

“I am happy to note that the investor sentiment towards Odisha is extremely encouraging. Even during the difficult COVID pandemic time, I am happy to inform you that Odisha has been able to attract new investments of over ₹1 lakh crore across multiple sectors,” he said.

The state was fast emerging as a manufacturing hub of eastern India, he said, adding that it was ranked number one in attracting investments during April-September 2019 and was poised to retain the position.

Naveen had more reasons to be happy. Four months later (March 2021), as the country was tackling the second wave of Covid-19, global steel leader ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Odisha government for setting up a 12 million-tonne integrated steel plant in Kendrapara district at a proposed investment of ₹50,000 crores.

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