No fresh investments unless all approvals in writing: Jindal Steel and Power

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New Delhi, October 30:   Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL), whose Chairman Naveen Jindal was named by the CBI in the coal block allocation case, on Wednesday said it will not make fresh investments unless it gets regulatory approvals and clearances in writing.

JSPL Managing Director and CEO Ravi Uppal said while the CBI cases were “distracting” they have not dented sentiment.

“Today we have come to a point that we will never make any investment until we have in writing the license, land documents in hand. Our whole attitude has changed.

“There were times when we used to think: Okay, it will be done, let’s start the project. But now we will never do that again. Now we want everything in writing,” Mr. Uppal said here after the company reported a 50 per cent drop in consolidated net profit for the second quarter.

Responding to a query on the CBI naming Naveen Jindal and Kumar Mangalam Birla in FIRs related to the coal block allocation case, Mr. Uppal said, “I don’t think it has dented sentiment, but it is very distracting…Government has to realise that they affect sentiment.”

However, for the company’s existing projects, “this is business as usual. Those mines which are already operational are operating,” Mr. Uppal said, adding that “we have given them (the CBI) answers in full and they are fully satisfied.”

Referring to Jharkhand’s Godda and Jitpur coal mine, which was allocated for JSPL’s 1,320 MW power project, Mr. Uppal said, “Why do you think that we have not started the power project in Godda? Unless the mining papers are there with us, after exploration, getting it stamped by them, all clearances, we are not going to hit the ground with this project.”

The Central Bureau of Investigation, which named Naveen Jindal in the FIR about four months ago, questioned the JSPL Chairman on September 26 in connection with a case of alleged cheating and criminal conspiracy in bagging the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand in 2008. Last week, the agency questioned the company’s HR head, Rajeev Bhadauria.

The JSPL MD further said after investing so much money, projects don’t work out.

“You are jinxed. Not only us, everybody is doing this and that is why you see the slowdown in industrial investment,” he said.

In its FIR, the CBI claimed that misrepresentation was allegedly done on three counts — land, water supply and previous coal block allocations.

Sources in the investigating agency had then said that JSPL and Gagan Sponge Iron Ltd, also a Jindal firm, had bagged the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Birbhum, Jharkhand, by alleged misrepresentation of facts when Dasari Narayan Rao was Minister of State for Coal.

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