Lafarge will start commercial production at its proposed 1Mta cement plant at Mejia in Bankura by 2006. The construction work for the plant will start from 2005. "Lafarge will come up with its cement plant at Mejia within the next two years," West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told newspersons here yesterday.
Mr Bhattacharjee held an hour-long discussion with Lafarge group chairman Bertrand Collomb and Lafarge India Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Martin Kreigner at the Calcutta Information Centre. Lafarge had earlier expressed desire to set up a cement plant when he met the Chief Minister in 2002. The company had already received 70 acres of land from Damodar Valley Corporation. The project cost is estimated to be around Rs 110 crore. The company also has plans to start a fly ash handling plant by January 2005. The total cost of the project is estimated at around Rs eight crores.
The company, which came out with an unique low budget housing concept worth Rs 40,000 for the poor, also sought the Chief Minister’s co-operation in the venture. "They have sought our co-operation. We have taken the decision to give them some land at Mejia near their cement plant so that locals can get houses at affordable prices," Mr Bhattacharjee said.
However, both Mr Collamb and Mr Kreigner refused to comment on their plans in Bengal. Mr Collamb told reporters that the company will expand operations in India and expect to become a national player soon. "We will expand our operations in India through acquisitions or greenfield projects," he said.
Lafarge, presently, has a market share of 25 per cent. The Indian operations contribute two per cent to the total turnover of Lafarge SA. Lafarge India, a subsidiary Lafarge SA, launched its brand Lafarge cement in
the eastern region on November 1, 1999. The brand is present in Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and the north eastern states.
Presently, Lafarge’s total cement capacity is 5Mta and that of clinker is 3Mta. The company started its operations by acquiring the cement plants of Tata Steel. In 2001, it acquired the cement business of Raymond Ltd. The company’s cement plants were located in Sonadih and Arasmeta in Chhatisgarh and Jojobera in Jharkhand.