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Vedanta seeks extension of SEZ to smelter in Jharsuguda

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Reported by Chinmaya Dehury/Edited by Sandeep Sahu

Bhubaneswar, Aug 22:

Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL), which received a major blow after all 12 gram sabhas rejected the move for mining in the Niyamgiri hills, has urged the Odisha government to extend the benefits of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) policy to its 1.2 MTPA smelter plant in Jharsuguda district.

“The plant was mechanically completed in all respect at an investment of more than Rs 12,000 crore in early 2012 and is ready for commissioning. But the commissioning of such a mega manufacturing facility is delayed considerably for want of a SEZ policy in the state. In the absence of SEZ policy, various departments are unable to extend the benefits to us as envisaged in the SEZ act and the Odisha SEZ policy,” said a letter written by Abhijit Pati, president and chief operating officer (COO) of the smelter plant to chief secretary JK Mohapatra.

Pleading for the extension of SEZ policy to cover the smelter plant, VAL said it been passing through great difficulties and struggling to sustain production in its non-SEZ facilities.

“Despite incurring huge losses every day, keeping in view our commitment as a partner in the progress of the state, we intend to start the SEZ facilities immediately after we are extended the benefits,” said the letter. It highlighted the positive impact on the community if the benefits are extended.

It also requested for exemption of electricity duty to the entire processing and non-processing areas. “In regard to the electricity duty exemption, we would like to emphasise that processing and non-processing areas are integral part of the SEZ and hence, the exemption should also be extended to the entire processing and non-processing areas. Moreover, all benefits should be made available to both SEZ developer and units,” urged Pati.

The company has claimed that developing and setting up downstream industries may not be made mandatory as it was not conceived originally.

Direct and indirect employment opportunities will be created for nearly 12, 000 people after the project come up in the district, Pati said.

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