New Delhi, India - The world's largest steel maker ArcelorMittal is threatening to scrap a $20bn project to build two major steel plants in eastern India because of problems with land acquisition.
Chairperson Lakshmi Mittal was quoted in Monday's Financial Times as saying that delays in purchasing the land from farmers and others in the states of Orissa and Jharkand were "unacceptable".
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"If we cannot make progress in these two sites, we will have to abandon the idea of starting the projects there and look for other places in India for our expansion," Mittal told the newspaper.
The saga has echoes of the problems encountered last year by India's largest vehicle maker Tata Motors which was forced to shift the plant for its new, cheap Nano car from West Bengal to Gujarat amid farmers' protests over land acquisitions.
India's industrial expansion faces a problem in purchasing agricultural land for development, with farmers often unwilling to sell and regional politics fuelling local anger at perceived commercial exploitation.
Mittal told the Financial Times that people in India needed to be "educated" to understand the collective benefits of industrial development.
The two plants envisaged by ArcelorMittal would jointly produce around 24 million tons of steel by 2015.