Vidarbha Economic Development Council (VED) has always been instrumental in identifying local strengths with the basic objective of bringing local value-addition to local resources and in the process generating employment for local youth. The establishment of a Ferroalloys cluster locally is one such area, said Shivkumar Rao, President, VED.
Like Mumbai port is a great asset for Mumbai and Pune helping the industries to grow, similarly Manganese, Coal and other minerals are the strengths of Vidarbha and must be allowed to ensure value-addition here itself so that they can contribute to the economy of Vidarbha.
P. Maheshwari, VP, VED, said, since decades Manganese Ore mines in Vidarbha have given employment to thousands of people at Kanhan and Tumsar, but two large Ferroalloys plants have closed down leaving many jobless. Effective and efficient utilization of local resources and their sustained and environment-friendly usage are the main objectives behind the development of a Ferroalloys cluster. Around 20-30 years back, Nagpur and the surrounding areas of Vidarbha had the largest Ferroalloys manufacturing hubs. The country’s well known industrial houses invested huge amounts in Vidarbha, but all the units closed down after struggling for survival, prominent among the reasons for the closure being the inordinately high power tariff.
Therefore, most of the natural resources of Vidarbha are moving out of the region without any value-addition and economic support to the local population. Minerals and electricity are the main commodities produced here in huge quantities, but since a long time no attention has been given to the related possible advantages and allied industries and its consequent benefits, which could be available to the local people. The potential exists for the creation of 20,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Similarly, coal is another important mineral of Vidarbha which needs to be looked into for important contribution to its economic development. Huge Manganese and coal mining in Vidarbha have a miniscule contribution in the form of workers’ wages and staff salaries. Since manufacturing industries for value-addition are not present, youth of this region are migrating elsewhere.
The proposal is to set up a Minerals Processing Cluster for value-addition of locally available important minerals to cut down the costs of finished products. Minerals like Manganese Ore, Iron Ore, Dolomite, Limestone, Quartz and Coal, which are raw materials for these industries, are available nearby for this cluster, particularly, the two main raw materials required, namely, Manganese and Power for the development of a Ferroalloys cluster.
Shivkumar recalled and informed that during the Mining Conclave, “MINCON 2019”, current Hon’ble Industries Minister, Subhash Desai, and former Hon’ble Chief Minister, GoM, Devendra Fadnavis, had committed to such a cluster with appropriate concessional tariff and incentives. MSMC (Maharashtra State Mining Corporation) was assigned the responsibility of identifying land and tying up with MOIL to secure manganese. They have already identified land for the project.
Nagpur and Bhandara districts have maximum private and public sector mines. There are some large-scale steel-producing plants in the range of about 300 kilometers.
Considering the prospects of lower electricity rates and many common facilities in the cluster, P. Maheshwari informed it is expected that many industries will be showing an intention of putting up their units in this cluster. Availability of assured and quality raw materials will only add to the inducement. The success of this initiative will support not only the core steel sector that is planning to increase its capacity from the present 120 Million MT to 300 Million MT, but also chemical and battery industries, which are the major consumers of Ferroalloys and who would be interested in setting up shop here. As the country is heading towards a major revolution in reducing the greenhouse gasses and reduction in the carbon footprint by way of bringing electric vehicles, battery-manufacturing units will be set up. This cluster will be a support to such Industries.
He said further that as this is a planned development, a lot of common facilities will be provided to individual Units. Some of these facilities are a weigh-bridge, well-equipped material testing lab, railway siding, staff training center, a Memorandum of Understanding for supply of raw material, lower electricity rates, availability of domain experts by way of panel of consultants, common effluent treatment facility etc.
Shivkumar Rao opined that as the “Make in India” concept of the Pradhan Mantri picks up, more and more consumers of Ferroalloys will be showing an interest in this cluster. All the products have a good demand in the domestic and international markets. Exports of Ferroalloys and other manganese-based products are showing a positive trend. He further stated that VED is moving ahead with full steam with support from key policy-makers and Industry experts to change the scenario of Vidarbha to one with sustainable Industry.