Vedanta Resources Chairman Anil Agarwal Monday announced the company’s plan to inject Rs 15,000 crore to raise the alumina refinery capacity at Lanjigarh three-fold to six mtpa and firm up downstream sector in Odisha in three years. The expansion of the Lanjigarh plant in phases would increase the capacity of the refinery from the existing two million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to four mtpa and then to six mtpa in the next three years, Anil Agarwal, who is also the founder of the company said addressing the Make in Odisha Conclave.
“Vedanta has already invested over Rs 50,000 crore in Odisha projects. Fresh investment of Rs 15,000 crore will be made in the next three years for expansion of Lanjigarh refinery and strengthening of downstream sector,” Agarwal said this while addressing the conclave and later interacting with journalists. He said, Vedanta’s aluminium park at Jharsuguda, where its smelter unit is located, is progressing well and around 25 downstream industries have come up and over 100 such units are likely to be set up in the complex spread over an area of 250 acres.
Agarwal, however, voiced concern over scarce availability of raw materials like coal and bauxite in the state. He said government companies get 100 per cent coal, while private entities are given only 25 per cent supply which makes it tough for them to run in a viable manner. “It is the responsibility of all to ensure that coal produced in the state is made available to local industries,” he said adding it would go a long way in boosting investment in Odisha.
Stating that half of the coal produced in Odisha moves out of the state, the Vedanta chairman said the whole mechanism is “discriminatory” and an increase of even 10 per cent in coal share would be of immense help to the private sector in which over five lakh employees are involved. About bauxite, Agarwal said only about one per cent of the mineral’s reserves in Odisha have been explored and it is essential to open more bauxite blocks to ensure expansion of the aluminium sector in the state. Vedanta, he said, has been given a small bauxite mine at Kodingamali and like oil blocks, more of them should be put to auction for growth of aluminium units.
Vedanta would participate in auctions of new bauxite mines to feed to its expansion programme, he said. Odisha has 700 mt of known bauxite reserves and has the potential to become the bauxite capital of the world. The state has 70 per cent of India’s total bauxite reserves, the world’s fifth-largest, he said. Comparing Odisha and Australia, Agarwal said both have similar geology and the Make in Odisha Conclave will attract more investment and best of technology to increase mining production to the same levels as that of the southern hemisphere country.
This can reduce country’s import bill by Rs 1 lakh crore and create over 10 Million Jobs, said Agarwal. “Odisha’s strategic location gives it excellent connectivity by air, land and water, while its skilled human resources, abundant water and power make the state an ideal place for investment,” he said. It is a matter of pride for Odisha to be crowned the ‘Aluminium Capital of India’ with Vedanta’s share at 60 per cent among the three players based in the State, he said.
The company, he claimed, has acted as a “juggernaut” for investment in Odisha whose GDP has grown from Rs 60,000 crore to over Rs 4 lakh crore at a rapid rate of 14 per cent since Vedanta’s inception. Agarwal said over 14 lakh people of Kalahandi district have benefited by Vedanta’s alumina refinery at Lanjigarh and the GDP growth rate has increased from one per cent to 16 per cent.
The annual per capita income of the Kalahandi district has increased three times from Rs 13,000 to Rs 35,000 which is line with overall Odisha per capita income. “We have created a favourable eco-system by developing schools, hospitals, college, road and rail lines in the district”, he said. Vedanta has developed an airstrip in Kalahandi which can be used by the government to promote connectivity and investment, the company chairman added.