The change in government in Odisha has revived hopes for the long-delayed Rs 30,000 crore expansion plan of the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) under SAIL. The expansion had been put on hold due to the previous government’s inadequate response to removing encroachments from unused RSP land.

According to sources within SAIL, RSP, a profitable and flagship plant, had submitted a proposal in mid-2021 to increase its hot metal production capacity from 4.5 MTPA to 9.3 MTPA. However, the project required the necessary land to be made available before implementation to avoid delays and capital lock-up.

The SAIL Board of Directors had deferred RSP’s expansion in April 2023, approving similar plans for other plants, due to a lack of progress in clearing encroachments over the past two years. Despite efforts to engage with the government, the issue remained unresolved, especially with the 2024 general elections approaching.

RSP reduced its land requirement from 2,000 acres to approximately 1,200 acres and proposed a compensation package for relocating affected families. The proposed expansion includes establishing an iron and steel mill zone with new facilities like a Raw Material Handling Plant, Coke Ovens, Sintering Plant, Blast Furnace, and Steel Melting Shop.

Himanshu Sekhar Bal, the general secretary of the Rourkela Ispat Karkhana Karmachari Sangh (RIKKS), expressed concerns about the potential obsolescence of the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) compared to newer, technologically advanced steel plants. He highlighted that since the last modernization and expansion project worth over Rs 12,000 crore 15 years ago, no significant investments have been made in Rourkela. Bal stated that the region’s stakeholders are hopeful that the new BJP government will promptly address the land issues, enabling the much-needed expansion.