Virbhadra keeps hope alive for extension of Himachal industrial package

Shimla: ‘March is here but not gone,’ said steel minister Virbhadra Singh about the term of excise exemptions permitted under incentives for new industry in Himachal that is to running against the month end deadline, unless extended.

While talking to the media, the minister said that the two union cabinet ministers (he and Anand Sharma) from Himachal were doing their best to defend the states case for extending the industrial incentives, that were first announced in 2003 for a ten year period to 2013.

The package was first curtailed to 2007 and then extended to March 2010. Hinting that a final decision about its extending the industrial package was still to be taken, the minister said, “between now and end of the month there was still time for taking a decision.”

The minister disclosed that other than a steel processing plant at Khandrori in Kangra, the ministry had in principal approved two more such plants for Sirmaur and Mandi. “The Himachal government has so far not committed any land or power for setting up a steel processing plant at Nahan. The three processing plants entail an investment of Rs 150 crore each. For the Khandrori plant, latest machinery had been ordered which would be installed soon, he said.

Denying that states interests were being overlooked by the central government, he said that for the first time three railway lines for the state had found mention in the railway budget. The Beri-Bilaspur line, the Baddi, Poanta and Dehradun line and the Mandi, Kullu-Manali and Leh line have figured in the railway budget, said Virbhadra.

The steel industry was undergoing a massive expansion for which Rs 80,000 crore was under investment stage. These funds being investment do not come from government grants but are from internal accruals of steel companies. Once the expansion is complete, the country’s steel production would increase from 54 million tons to 120 million tons, said the steel minister.

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