Essar Steel is a fully integrated flat carbon steel manufacturer–from iron ore to ready-to-market products–with a current capacity of 10 million tonnes per annum (MTPA). Essar Steel's manufacturing facility comprises ore beneficiation, pellet making, iron making, steel making, and downstream facilities including cold rolling mill, galvanising, pre-coated facility, steel processing facility, extra wide plate mill and a pipe mill.
In April 2018 (as reported in The Telegraph) nearly 80 families who lost their homestead to Essar's steel project here renewed their agitation for permanent employment cover on Tuesday. The protesting families squatted in front of the project gate, stopping raw materials from going in or finished products from coming out, affecting production at the pellet plant. The agitators took strong exception to the alleged dilly-dallying tactics of the administration and the steelmaker in fulfilling of their demands, including employment and rehabilitation of displaced families. According to The Times of India (4 April 2018) displaced former residents of the area, along with workers whose positions at the factory were insecure staged a strike and a dharna at the gates of the factory..
In 2016, the company had committed to provide employment to one member from each displaced family and gave a written undertaking to the district administration.
"The company has deliberately shied away from protecting the larger interest of the people affected. Essar officials had pledged to fulfil demands on several occasions after the district administration mediated in the dispute. But things have come a cropper as people who lost their land to the project continue to suffer," said Dharanidhar Swain, who led the agitation.
"As the company has ignored people's demand, we stopped production." Swain added that the company had assured employment at the unit to local residents. "The plant has been operational for seven years. But few of the affected families have got jobs. Those who have got jobs are on contract where there is no job security," he said.
In late August 2018 it was reported by Odisha TV and other media that the protest at Essar Steel India Limited in Paradip continued and neither the local administration nor the company management had taken any step to resolve the issue.
Surprisingly, the protestors began their agitation even though Section 144 has been clamped in front of the company gate.Ratnakar Jena, a protestor, said “We handed over our lands to Essar Steel at cheap prices. Whatever money we had got from the sale, we bought Hyva trucks and engaged the vehicles in the company work.
However, the company is now trying to engage vehicles from outside. It will have an adverse effect on our livelihood.”
As per reports, Essar Steel is setting up a 12 million tonne pellet plant in Paradip with an aim to increase the production capacity to a whopping 24 million tonne per annum in future. The company had also planned to set up an Integrated Steel Plant (ISP) with 6 million tonne production capacity per annum at Handia later. Essar had sought intervention of the State Government to provide land at the village for its ISP plant.
This is the first phase of the 12 mtpa pellet plant to be commissioned by 2013.
The company is also setting up 12 mtpa iron ore beneficiation plant at Dabuna and a 253 km slurry pipeline connecting Dabuna and Paradip.
The beneficiation plant will enhance the iron content in the ore to 63 per cent from 54 per cent.
Essar Steel plans to invest Rs 4,200 crore to set up the integrated facility in Odisha.
The pellet plant in Paradip, along with the eight mtpa facility at Visakhapatnam, in Andhra Pradesh, will fully secure the iron ore requirements of the company's Hazira plant.The company will beneficiate the low-grade iron ore available at Dabuna and transport it through a slurry pipe to the pellet plant at Paradip.The pellets will then be transported from the company's dedicated berth at Paradip port to Hazira.
“The entire process will bring down our production cost to $750 a tonne against the industry average of $1,000 to $1,350 a tonne,” he said.
However in February 19 ,2016, the company informed the State Government that it has changed its plans and will not set up the ISP plant at Paradip. Hence, the villagers of Handia will not be rehabilitated.
Activists of Gramya Surakhya Samiti said the affected families of Handia are living in pathetic conditions due to lack of developmental activities. Claiming that Essar Steel is harassing the locals by not providing employment opportunities, activists demanded rehabilitation of villagers as per R&R policy, provision of permanent jobs to unemployed youths who have been trained by the company besides degree and diploma engineers and hike in remuneration of workers engaged in Essar. If the Government fails to resolve the issue, the villagers would launch an agitation, threatened threatened by GSS.
With Essar Steel withdrawing its proposed project at Handia village in Jagatsinghpur district and the local authorities stopping developmental activities, the villagers have been left in a lurch.As the company required 394 acre of land at Handia for the ISP, the administration had issued notice to nearly 80 families residing in the village for their displacement under section 4 (1) of Land Acquisition Act in 2008. The administration even decided to stop development activities in the village due to the proposal for displacement of its residents. Following strong protests by villagers over the move to stop development activities, the administration decided to provide health services, drinking water facilities and road connectivity till February 14, 2014 as displacement process had not been initiated by Essar Steel.