New Delhi: Paramilitary forces will guard an ambitious mining project of Steel Authority of India in Chhattisgarh and help in construction of a 235-km-long railway track to transport ore slurry through the Naxal-hit area.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary R K Singh and attended by Steel Secretary D R S Chaudhary and others here Monday.
SAIL had requested for five battalions (5,000 personnel) of paramilitary forces to guard the Rowghat iron ore mines, spread over 2030 hectares in Kanker and Narayanpur districts, which feed the Bhillai Steel Plant that may have to stop production in three to four years if new source of iron ore is not found.
Official sources said at least two battalions would be provided in first stage to guard the proposed project as it has huge economic prospect in the future. Large presence of Maoists in and around Rowghat is hampering SAIL’s plan.
It has agreed to pay for the security forces.
The steel maker had approached the Home Ministry seeking its help for the development work of Rowghat mines which has over 500 million tonnes iron ore reserves.
SAIL had received environment and forest clearances way back in 2009 for developing the prolific mines, located in the Bastar region of the state, but could not make much progress because of Naxalite activities in the area.