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Rourkela Steel Plant, Orissa, India


Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) is located in the north-western tip of Orissa. The plant is located at the centre of a rich mineral belt in Orissa. The plant has a locational advantage in terms of connectivity because it is situated on the Howrah-Mumbai rail mainline and very well connected with most of the important cities of India [1].

It is one of the largest steel plants and the plant was conceived about 60 years ago in the year 1954. The Republic of Germany provided technical know how for the construction of the steel plant. German metallurgical firms Mannesmann, Krupp, Demag, Siemens and Voestalpine provided machinery and consultancy to the plant among others.

In the 1950s, the public sector corporation Hindustan Steel Limited (HSL) had purchased a complete steel plant from 36 German companies (among them leading German companies like Mannesmann and Krupp) with roughly 3,000 subcontractors, but without sufficient coordination of the numerous supplies. Unfortunately, the HSL was not able to pay in cash as was originally considered. In 1958 German ECA KfW, with the support of the German Federal Government, took over the promissory notes to prolong the Indian obligations to pay. To avoid default on payments, from 1958 onwards, the German Government gave loans to secure these kind of core sector undertakings which was originally started by the private sector [6].

For the purpose of establishment of plant about 20,000 acres of land were acquired under the Land Acquisition Act. At the time of establishment of plant there were very little resistance and very little compensation was paid [2]. During its construction, thousands of tribal had been displaced in 1950s. Since then people regularly organize protests in different forms, including filing cases at the Supreme Court of India, for compensation and rehabilitation packages. However, the RSP has been allegedly lingering the displaced people’s entitlements in terms of compensation and jobs. [3] The displacement, resettlement, compensation packages has been mostly insufficient, ineffective and in transparent [5].

Rourkela Steel Plant also has an associated Fertilizer Plant that produces nitrogeneous fertilizers using ammonia feedstock (from its coke oven plant).

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Rourkela Steel Plant, Orissa, India
State or province:Orissa
Location of conflict:Rourkela
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Land acquisition conflicts
Metal refineries
Specific commodities:Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) was set up in 1954 with German collaboration. The plant is located in the mineral rich state Orissa. It is the first integrated steel plant in the public sector in India. The plant has an installed capacity of 1 million tons and was enhanced to 1.9 million tons after modernization in 1990s. Now RSP has the capacity to produce 2 million tons of hot metal, 1.9 million tons of crude steel and 1.67 million tons of saleable steel.

Recently, RSP has taken a massive modernization and expansion plan with an capital investment of around of Rs 12,000 crores that will double its present generation capacity [1].

Project area:8094
Level of Investment:2,025,181,052 (Rs 12,000 crores modernization plan)
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:23,400-25,000
Start of the conflict:1954
Company names or state enterprises: Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) from India
Relevant government actors:Government of Orissa, Ministry of Steel, Government of India
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Rehabilitation and Periphery Development Advisory Committee (RPDAC), Adivasi Koordination in Germany (AKD)

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Land demarcation
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:The major demand of displaced persons of Rourkela Steel Plant is to return the Land that was acquired. People wanted to return the surplus land (about 14,000 acres) to the original owners.
They have grievances that the ‘land for land’ compensation was not made in proper way. The same quality and quantity of land was not given to the land losers.
The promise given at the time of land acquisition, that the displaced families will be given jobs were not fulfilled and nit given any employment in the steel plant
Beside this the displaced families given land in the resettlement colonies which did not have many basic amenities [5]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:A question answer session in 2011, raised in the Indian Parliament, Steel Minister said that SAIL has employed about 6,257 displacement at Rourkela Steel Plant [4]
The list of around 2, 200 claims prepared by Rehabilitation and Periphery Development Advisory Committee in 2007 for compensation and job for the people. The RSP authorities have agreed in 2013 to provide employment to the displaced of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP)
RSP has also agreed to surrender around 1,100 acres of surplus land for establishment of vending zones in a bid to check encroachment and settle the local population. [3]
Despite all these argument, the plant is operating until today and many people have not been compensated.

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency In Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement act, 2013,%20Rehabilitation%20and%20Resettlement%20Act,%202013.pdf

Orissa Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy - 2006

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] About Rourkela Steel Plant

[2] Butu Prasad Khumbhar & Ors vs Steel Authority Of India Ltd. &Ors on 30 March, 1995

[3] Rourkela Steel Plant agrees to recruit 146 displaced persons

[4] SAIL has provided 27,000 jobs to project-affected people: Minister


Land Acquisition and Displacement in Western Odisha: An Overview

[6] Environics Trust, "An Assessment of the ROURKELA STEEL PLANT (RSP), INDIA"

[5] 50 Years and More Struggle for Justice at Rourkela; Proceedings of the Convention of Displaced Persons "Livelihood or Survival" at Nav Jagriti, Kalunga (near Rourkela) on 6th and 7th March, 2010, Edited & Published, by Displaced Persons' Conference Organising Committee, Rourkela, Orissa with support from ASHRA, sarini and Adivasi-Koordination in Germany 2010

Other documents

Rourkela Steel Plant Source :

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update01/07/2014



Rourkela Steel Plant

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