Maoist guerrillas to sabotage Lakshmi Mittal mining plans

Maoist guerrillas are plotting to sabotage plans by Britain's richest man Lakshmi Mittal to open iron ore mines in southern India.

Lakshmi Mittal
Britain's richest man Lakshmi Mittal plans to open iron ore mines in southern India Photo: PA
Mr Mittal, the world's top 'steel baron' with a personal fortune of 22.45 billion pounds, has earmarked India as a top priority for his fast-growing business empire.
Last month his company, ArcelorMittal was granted a government licence to invest £7 billion in an iron ore mine in Jharkhand's Karampada region.
But his plans to exploit India's desperate demand for steel could be thwarted by the state's brutal Maoist insurgency.
The state has recently seen an upsurge in attacks on state steel company properties and on local railways which transport iron ore, but a spokesman for the Maoists, known in India as "Naxalites," has said their target is ArcelorMittal's mining plans.
"We are ready with a blueprint to prevent the Mittals' entry into the region," a Maoist spokesman said.
He said local tribal people, those who could be displaced by the new mine, will lead the campaign with Maoist support and that they will not allow Mr Mittal to "exploit the state's mineral wealth."
The Maoists are increasingly feared in India where they control vast swathes of rural territory and have a strong presence in one third of the country's districts. Last month they killed 76 troops from the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force in an ambush in Chhattisgarh state. They are believed to control 17 of Jharkhand's 24 districts.
A spokesman for the Jharkhand police said tribals in the state were strongly opposed to mining companies taking their land, but questioned whether they had a particular grudge against ArcelorMittal.
"There have been some incidents of bombings in some parts of Jharkhand on steel plants. The tribals stand is clear – they are against mining, but they are least bothered whether it is Mittal or Tata. If the tribals start agitation, it will not be a surprise for us," he said.
A spokesman for ArcelorMittal declined to comment.