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Tatas may look at alternative sites for titanium dioxide projectnews
16 August 2007

Chennai: With Tata Steel Limited''s Rs2,500 crore titanium dioxide project at Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu getting mired in political debate, the Tata group has declared it cannot be wait inordinately. The group has other options to pursue, top officials said.

Addressing the media here on Tuesday B Muthuraman, managing director, Tata Steel said, after the Corus acquisition, the company''s consolidated turnover is Rs100,000 crore turnover. A company of this size has various other projects and contingency plans to fall back on, he emhasised.

He said the group had budgeted Rs50 crore towards land acquisition (approximately Rs56,000 per acre) which he said was a fair price. "We will not pay `any'' price," he added. If the land cost exceeds the above amount then the project that has a. internal rate of return of 12-14 per cent will not be viable.

Political parties like AIADMK, left parties, PMK and Congress (I) - the last three are allies of the ruling party DMK- have formed fact finding teams to gather the people''s mood towards the project. Even the government has formed its own fact-finding team. This apart there will be a public hearing after the project gets the land and the environmental impact assessment is made.

According to Muthuraman, only four Indian states-Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Orissa- can have a titanium dioxide project. Kerala has one already. Tata Steel after considering the four states finally zeroed on Tamil Nadu way back in 2002 itself. It signed an MOU with the then state government under AIADMK. After that the project didn''t take off.

This June, Tata Steel signed another MOU with the state government now under DMK supported by its poll allies.

When queried about the company acquiring the land directly from the owners instead of asking the government to acquire, Muthuraman said, title to some land tracts are unclear. It will be better for the government to acquire large tracts of land instead of a company.

Tata Steel has acquired around 15 acres on its own for the titanium dioxide project.

Requesting the state government to stop illegal mining in the Tirunelveli district he said the titanium dioxide project would generate direct employment for 1,000 persons and indirect employment for another 3,000.

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Tatas may look at alternative sites for titanium dioxide project